Oglethorpe biology major presents research at American Society for Cell Biology International Conference

In December 2022, Oglethorpe biology major Sarah Gordon ’23 presented her honors thesis research at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) International Conference in Washington, D.C.

The largest gathering of its kind in the world, the ASCB International Conference hosts a myriad of events, including symposiums, mini-symposiums, micro-symposiums, etc., where researchers give presentations on their research. At this event, undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, experienced and Nobel Prize award-winning scientists can present alongside one another.

Gordon attended the micro-symposia for cell division and the mini-symposia for microtubule dynamics. Her research focuses on the ciliary assembly, organelles that stick out from cells and are required for motility and sensation, and function in the model system Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, single-celled green algae. She has compiled research that explores the role of a novel ciliary protein called flagellar-associated protein 93, or FAP93, and how other proteins interact with it.

Gordon’s work examines a protein called ODA10 and the effects of its interaction with FAP13. Through her research, she discovered that when ODA10 is defective, FAP93 is found in reduced amounts, which suggests that FAP93 requires ODA10 for complete assembly onto the axoneme (the core of cilia).

Gordon has conducted independent research for two years in the Alford Lab at Oglethorpe, under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Lea Alford and alongside other Oglethorpe students. The Lab’s main research goal is to understand ciliary assembly and function. Gordon has shared her research discoveries at Oglethorpe University’s Posters in Research in Science and Math (PRISM) and at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium (LASS) and will be presenting again at this year’s LASS in April.

Every year, ASCB opens up abstract submissions, where researchers submit an approximately 300-word summary of their research.┬áDr. Alford encouraged Gordon to submit her research for the ASCB conference, as several former Oglethorpe students — Alford and (Karen) Schmeichel Lab alumni Ariana Jimenez ’20 and Jovan Brockett ’20 — went to ASCB a few years ago. Due to COVID-19, Oglethorpe students took a hiatus from applying to ASCB, but Gordon’s presentation officially closes that gap.

After graduation, Gordon intends to study cell biology in a graduate program and to pursue her Ph.D.

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