Science Students Take Part in Welch Foundation Grant Program

Paxton ResearchPLAINVIEW – While fall classes technically start on Aug. 18, some Wayland Baptist University students have been working throughout the summer. Paxton Patterson and Lucy Chavez have been conducting scientific research as part of the Summer Welch Research Program funded by a Welch Departmental Research grant.

Dr. Robert Moore worked with Patterson trying to determine if a specific enzyme could be responsible for drug resistant mutations of tuberculosis. Patterson’s working is building on previous student research dealing with enzyme RecA and how effective it is at swapping DNA sequences. Moore said Patterson’s work will determine if RecA operates as a catalyst in the tuberculosis mutation process.

Dr. Matthew Dyson worked with Chavez in developing a more robust method to determine the sex of Texas horned lizards. Research has shown disproportionate gender balance among the horned lizard throughout the state. Local sampling confirmed the findings. Due to physiological features, sex determination among young lizards is difficult. Chavez’s approach is to sequence the horned lizard genome. Finding a more robust method of sex determination will be crucial in future conservation efforts.

As part of the Welch grant, students spend eight weeks working on a research projects in which they are interested. Students receive a stipend, along with room and board and course credit. Students are required to write abstracts explaining their work and submit them in order to present their findings at scientific meetings. Last year five Wayland students made six presentations in three sections at the Texas Academy of Sciences, winning two of the three sections.