SHU Recent Graduates Win National Biology Awards

Coe, Pirkle Receive Honors at National Beta Beta Beta Conference

Recent Siena Heights University graduates Lauren Coe and Jared Pirkle each won national biology awards for their presentations at the national Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society research conference in May in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Coe, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, earned the first place Frank Brooks Award in ecology for her presentation on the effects of leaf color on the landing choice, egg-laying preference and larval growth of the cabbage white butterfly.

“Why female butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on certain plants, but not others, has puzzled biologists for over a century,” said SHU Professor of Biology Dr. Jun Tsuji, who guided and supervised Coe’s research. “The prevailing thought is that the females choose to lay eggs on plants that are the most suitable for the growth of their offspring. Lauren’s research results, however, suggest that female butterfly behavior may not always be for the benefit of her offspring.”

Coe is only the second Siena Heights student to earn a first place at the national biology conference. Billy Houghteling also received the honor in 1996.

Pirkle, a native of Deerfield, Mich., earned the third place John Johnson Award in organismal biology for his poster presentation on the circadian activity of the house mouse.

Pirkle’s research was guided and supervised by SHU Professor of Biology Dr. Carl Kaster.

“Most organisms, including humans, have an internal circadian clock that anticipates daily environmental changes, such as day and night,” Kaster said. “Mice use their internal clocks to regulate their behavior, so that they rest during the day and are active in the evening. Jared experimentally manipulated the length of the dark phase in a 24-hour cycle of light and darkness and discovered that these conditions significantly affected the wheel-running activity of the mice.”

Coe and Pirkle, who each received a bachelor’s degree in biology in May, were one of more than 300 students from 52 colleges and universities who presented at the conference. An 11-member delegation from SHU’s Xi Omega chapter of Beta Beta Beta attended the national conference.

This fall, Coe will attend medical school at the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, while Pirkle plans to enter the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Andrews University.

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