Independent Research
for Bio 371/372/373 academic credit during the fall or spring semester
or summer research with paid stipend
Dr. Karen Hales, Dana 201,
Phone x2324, email kahales
Dr. Hales's home page
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Summer 2015 schedule

Research focus: In the Hales lab we perform genetic analysis with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to explore the molecular mechanisms by which mitochondria are moved and shaped in cells. Mitochondria are the organelles often referred to as the "powerhouses of the cell," since they are the sites where energy from food is stored in ATP. In many cell types with unusual energy needs, mitochondria move (in a regulated way) to be close to energy-requiring structures such as flagella or ion pumps. In addition, mitochondria often undergo regulated fusion and division, sometimes existing as a single large network in the cell, and sometimes as many individual units. We speculate that such changes may contribute to the efficiency of ATP generation in certain contexts. In Drosophila melanogaster (as in most other higher organisms), mitochondria undergo a dramatic series of shape changes during spermatogenesis. Through the identification of male-sterile mutants defective in mitochondrial morphogenesis, we can isolate and characterize genes whose protein products function in this process.

Current personnel in the lab:

Brian Johnson '16
Brittany Elek '15
Jon Lim '17
Elizabeth Brunner '16
Taylor Simmons '17
Hannah Lukow '18
Devon Harris '15 (Research technician
Lindsay Regruto (Research technician)

Information and requirements for students enrolled in Bio371/372/373 for credit

Course objectives

In this independent research course you will learn to design and carry out experiments to explore the molecular basis of mitochondrial movement and shaping in developing fruit fly sperm cells. You will learn basic techniques of fly husbandry, microscopy, and/or recombinant DNA technology. You will become familiar with reading the research literature. You will develop skills as an experimentalist, proposing new experiments to follow up on recent results, and learning to troubleshoot techniques.

There are no official textbooks. We will discuss journal articles during our weekly meetings. You will participate in literature searches and paper selection in preparation for these journal club-style discussions.

--A two page project proposal at the beginning of the semester
--Attendance at weekly lab meetings
--At least ten hours a week of research time in the lab. The ten hours do not include time in lab meeting or time filling out your time sheet.
--Formal presentation of your results (with powerpoint) every three or four weeks during lab meeting
--Informal discussion of your results with the group every week during lab meeting
--Weekly submission of a progress sheet indicating daily activities, achievements, troubleshooting, and goals.
--Frequent one-on-one informal conversations with me as needed
--Literature searches and background paper reading as applicable to your project
--Poster creation and subsequent presentation at the Spring Science and Math Research Symposium.
--A write-up detailing your methods and results.



Data presentations

Journal club


Overall effort and output (calculated as average of weekly interim grades)







WWW resources
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Literature browsing/searching

Browse current journals
Search Pubmed
Genetics news

Drosophila resources

A Drosophila
Fly husbandry guidelines by Grace Panganiban
Fly protocols from WWW Virtual Library
FlyBase at Indiana University
Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project
Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center
Interactive Fly
WWW Virtual Library: Drosophila
Drosophila labs on the web
Annual Drosophila Research Conference
Drosophila news group

Mitochondria resources

Mitochondrial Research Society
Mitochondrial Medicine Society
United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
Children's Mitochondrial Disease Network


Sequence analysis

NCBI Main Page
BLAST search for similar nt or aa sequences
CLUSTALW Multiple Sequence Alignment
Transmembrane domain prediction
PSORT prediction of subcellular localization


Labs working on Drosophila spermatogenesis

Chris Bazinet (St. Johns)
Julie Brill (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto)
Steve DiNardo (University of Pennsylvania)
Margaret Fuller (Stanford; follow link on dept page)
Maurizio Gatti (Universita' di Roma "La Sapienza")
Erika Matunis (Johns Hopkins)
Angus McQuibban (University of Toronto)
Steve Wasserman (UC San Diego)
Helen White-Cooper (Cardiff University)

Labs working on mitochondrial morphogenesis in yeast

Rob Jensen (Johns Hopkins)
Jodi Nunnari (UC Davis)
Liza Pon (Columbia)
Janet Shaw (University of Utah)
Peter Thorsness(University of Wyoming)
Benedikt Westermann (Universität Bayreuth)

Labs working on mitochondrial morphogenesis in other systems

Pascale Belenguer (Université Paul Sabatier)
David Chan (CalTech)
David Logan (Université D'Angers)
Mark McNiven (Mayo Clinic)
Alex van der Bliek (UCLA)

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Davidson Biology

Dr. Hales's home page

© Copyright 2002-2015 Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson NC 28035
last modified May 25, 2015, 2014 by K. Hales