Student Research

The Biology program at St. Thomas Aquinas College seeks to provide students with real-world experience. Students may choose an area of research that develops their skills as a scientist. Students are required to meet with faculty to discuss topics and implementation. Students are expected to spend a minimum of 5 hours in laboratory per week for 14 weeks.  Below is a list of several student projects in the field of Biological Sciences.

Shoaling Behavior in Genetically Modified Zebra Fish

Fish with similar characteristics often form social aggregations known as shoals. Shoaling behavior has been shown to decrease predation on individual fish, as well as increase the likelihood of mating. Recently, undergraduate students had the opportunity to test how colorization of the body affects shoal choice behavior in a genetically modified species of zebra fish known as Glofish.  Students presented their research at the annual Animal Behavioral Society meeting.

Hormone Measurements 

Hormones are known to play a role in the behavior of convict cichlids. Specifically, sexual behavior is strongly influenced by androgens (such as 11-ketotestosterone) in males. Little is known regarding the role (if any) 11-ketotestosterine plays in female convict cichlids. Undergraduates had the opportunity to isolate and measure plasma levels of 11-ketotestosterine from female convict cichlids. Students presented their research at Ignite:  the annual St. Thomas Aquinas College undergraduate research symposium.

GMO Analysis of the Food Students Consume

What is a genetically modified crop?  It is a crop that has a foreign piece of DNA inserted into its genome.  The foreign piece of DNA can come from other plants or from species of another kingdom. The foreign piece of DNA is usually a gene that codes for a protein that gives the plant some form of advantage. Recently, students had the opportunity to test whether food they eat is genetically modified. This research was completed in Genetics, and served as an undergraduate senior thesis project.