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SXU Student Awarded TriBeta Research Grant


Saint Xavier University (SXU) senior Sarah Kaley, a biology pre-health major, has been awarded a research grant from the Beta Beta Beta Research Scholarship Foundation. Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) is an honor society for students, dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research. The foundation supports selected research activities by undergraduates who are regular members of TriBeta.

Kaley has been working with Randolph Krohmer, Ph.D., biology professor, to investigate the appearance patterns of a special protein called C-Fos in the brain of male red-sided garter snakes following exposure to the female pheromone. Kaley is working to address the meanings of C-Fos appearance patterns in terms of reproductive endocrinology to pave the way toward understanding C-Fos as an early immediate gene and neurological signaling. The grant will allow Kaley to continue her research.

"In the lab, I am answering questions through the procedure of visualization C-Fos at specific points during reproductive behavior," said Kaley. "This allows for an understanding of the reactivity and appearance patterns in the brain and explains why C-Fos is more present in certain time frames than others."

Kaley will present her research at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) 2021 Annual Meeting, where she will compete for best project. She has also been invited to present her research at a regional district convention in the spring and receive feedback from professionals that will allow her to expand her horizons procedurally.

Kaley, who is also pursuing a minor in chemistry, is president of the Pre-Medical Society, vice president of the Saint Xavier chapter of TriBeta, a member of both the Saint Xavier Honors Program and the Mathematics Honors Society, and a tutor and supplementary instruction leader in the Learning Center.

She first became interested in biology when her brother was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 12 years ago. Watching him grow and develop piqued Kaley's interests about the neurological differences between his brain and an average one and how his cognitive processes differ from those of an average brain. As she studies at SXU, she finds that she is being well-prepared for medical school, which she has applied to for the fall.

"I like the personability of the faculty at SXU. You can tell the professors truly care about all of their students and yearns for their success, and their roles as advisors are so beneficial to ambitious students," said Kaley, who feels thankful to have Krohmer as a mentor.

"I am very inspired by the professors in the Biology and Chemistry departments. They have helped me throughout my career at SXU, and I will never forget all they have done for me. I extend my gratitude to Dr. Krohmer for helping in my growth as a student, researcher and individual," said Kaley.

"Sarah has been an excellent student throughout her SXU career. She has used her time at SXU to expand her world, spending time at an Italian hospital, participating in the Yellowstone field class, the Natural History of the Vertebrates: Field Experience, and traveling to Canada to conduct field work for her student-faculty research. We anticipate that Sarah's research will be published by next summer," said Krohmer.

In addition to applying for medical school, Kaley plans to take an emergency medical services (EMS) course to earn an emergency medical technician (EMT) license. She will also submit a manuscript for review for publication and continue her research in neurology.

"I love biology because our scientific knowledge base is always changing. There is always something new to discover. Innovation is the way that we understand the complexities of life, and I aim to know it all," said Kaley. "I want to continue to learn and contribute to the world."