October 2, 2017
Work Scholar, Shane Kinzer is currently working as a laboratory technician in two different labs for the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC). Through this technician position, Kinzer is able to do research under two assistant professors of biology, Dr. Eric Stoffregen and Dr. Leigh Latta.
In addition to research and academic studies, Kinzer was recently given the opportunity to present along with fellow student Josh Mundell. The research done in Dr. Stoffregen’s lab was presented at the annual Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) conference in Moscow, ID, and at the Environmental Mutagenesis & Genomics Society in Raleigh, NC. Kinzer is scheduled to present in Philadelphia, PA in March, 2018.
In Dr. Stoffregen’s lab their research takes a closer look into the cellular defects caused by a rare autosomal recessive disease called Bloom Syndrome. Kinzer works with the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, a small fruit fly. This fruit fly is what Shane and members of Dr. Stoffregen’s lab use to investigate defects in DNA replication and repair associated with Bloom Syndrome. “We use fruit flies because the genes responsible for the disease are orthologous in humans allowing us to relate the condition between species” Kinzer says. “The idea is to investigate specific areas of DNA that may cause problems for individuals with Bloom Syndrome. Although Bloom Syndrome is a very rare disease in humans, the fruit flies we study have been genetically altered so the disease is present allowing us to conduct our research” comments Kinzer.
In Professor Leigh Latta’s lab, Kinzer is researching how mutations affect a different model organism, Daphnia magna, the water flea. This research explores how relaxed natural selection might be negatively affecting humans on a genetic level. Kinzer states that, “removing natural selection in a population over a long period can have negative impacts on the overall fitness of that population.” Kinzer goes on to say, “without natural selection to remove disadvantageous traits or mutations, these mutations can accumulate resulting in decreased fitness.” By studying water fleas, Kinzer and Latta can correlate the effects of mutations within water fleas to mutations that occur within humans. Through their research, they hope to show how genetic mutations contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.
"This experience is essential for my future educational and career goals."
These research opportunities, offered through the LC Work Scholars program, provide experience in basic laboratory techniques and experimental design. “This experience is essential for my future educational and career goals” Kinzer says. Research done in these two labs range from the processes of DNA replication and repair to the effects that mutations have on the fitness of an organism. Kinzer earned an associate’s degree in radiography in 2012 and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology from LCSC. Shane is on track to graduate in 2018 and plans to continue on to graduate school to become an optometrist.
Students in the LC Work Scholars program represent a wide variety of majors, working both on and off campus. Work Scholars earn a tuition scholarship and stipend, in exchange for 10 hours of work per/week in their career field of choice.
For more information about LC Work Scholars contact at (208) 792-2084 or email@example.com.