Kim Dill-McFarland '11, a biochemistry major at University of Puget Sound, has been selected to present the results of a recent research project to the American Society for Microbiology (A.S.M.) annual meeting in San Diego, in May 2010. This follows her spring award of an A.S.M. Undergraduate Research Fellowship that funded a summer research project in her chosen field. Mark Martin, associate professor in the Department of Biology, is acting as her mentor.
Dill-McFarland was one of only eight students from baccalaureate colleges chosen for the fellowship, out of an overall field of 69 applicants. It included a $4,000 stipend, a two-year A.S.M. membership, and travel expenses to the 2010 general meeting.
Dill-McFarland's research project was titled "Investigating the role of the malF and malA regions of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus' genome in maltose metabolism and the predatory lifestyle." Bdellovibrio is a predatory bacterium that pursues, attacks, and consumes other bacteria. Very little is known regarding how genes are turned off and turned on in this organism. Dill-McFarland's research focuses on how a set of genes-involved in the metabolism of the sugar maltose-are regulated in Bdellovibrio. By better understanding gene regulation in Bdellovibrio, it may be possible in the future to "tailor" the organism so that it can be used to fight disease-causing bacteria. The project was completed during the summer and Dill-McFarland is continuing her research independently through Puget Sound during the 2009 fall semester.
The A.S.M. Undergraduate Research Fellowship is aimed at highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers in microbiology. Applicants have to show academic achievement, the potential contribution of their research, and achievement in previous research experiences. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the A.S.M. is the oldest and largest single biological membership organization, with more than 40,000 members worldwide.