A G&B Summer

June 10, 2024

Leigh Anna Brown ’25

Junior biochemistry major Leigh Anna Brown is spending her summer as a medical assistant, a tutor, a resident community manager and more (as you see in the photo above)!

Leigh Anna is working as a medical assistant at a dermatology clinic where she gets to work with patients and assist providers with biopsies and excisions. In addition, she is tutoring two third graders prepping them for the new school year. Leigh Anna has also been working with high schoolers and incoming freshmen this summer.

Giving back to her community is important to Leigh Anna. This summer she volunteered at a week-long event in her local community called Serve Week, where she led middle and high schoolers in projects.

“We go out every day doing different service projects such as cleaning up roads and washing cop cars.”

She is also a Resident Community Mentor (RCM) on campus in Byrnes Hall this summer working with incoming freshman. RCMs serve students in the residential communities as community engagers, community advocates, and resource educators.

“I love working with freshmen and helping them establish themselves in the Clemson community and making a home here.”

While not busy at the clinic, on campus or tutoring, Leigh Anna is enjoying walking, getting coffee, reading and maintaining goats this summer.

“I started raising goats with my fiancé this summer. We have six right now and hopefully will be breeding them soon!”

Leigh Anna is involved in Campus Outreach, an interdenominational college ministry program and Sigma Alpha Omega, a Christian sorority where she serves as their Judicial Board Chairwoman and Bible Study Chairwoman.

“In the fall, I am starting a research project on prenatal and postpartum mental health and chronic illness in the fall and am super excited.”

Kaylee Board ’25

Kaylee Board is a pre-med junior genetics and biochemistry double major with minors in biological sciences and chemistry from Arlington, VA. This summer Kaylee is balancing her time between studying for the MCAT, volunteering and shadowing.

On campus Kaylee participates in the Clemson University Student Government as a member of the Judicial Board, the organization It’s On Us, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit program dedicated to college sexual assault prevention, and is a member of Chi Omega. In addition, Kaylee is part of two Creative Inquiries.

“One is a chemistry CI through the Honors College under the guidance of Dr. Julia Brumaghim, which focuses on synthesizing thione/selone N-heterocycles. My second CI project focuses on environmental genomics under the guidance of Dr. Kimberly Métris.”

In Dr. Métris’ CI the Kaylee is working with the team to interrogate eukaryotic connections among vertebrates, plants, and fungi using environmental DNA from local sites they selected. At the Focus on Creative Inquiry (FoCI) Poster Forum in April, Kaylee and the group presented research showing their bacterial 16S rRNA metagenomic sequencing results and are also working as a team to interrogate eukaryotic connections among vertebrates, plants, and fungi using environmental DNA from local sites they selected.

Kaylee has been keeping busy during her summer as well, partly studying for the MCAT to get in to medical school.

“For the MCAT, I’ve been working on a mix of content review from pre-requisite classes and passage style questions to get used to the formatting of the exam.”

While Kaylee has been studying for the MCAT, she has also been volunteering at Virginia Hospital Center and shadowing in their Emergency Department. She has had the opportunity to learn for the physicians during evening/night shifts. In addition to the Emergency Department, Kaylee has shadowed in various other medical specialties this summer including Urology, Dermatology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatric Oncology.

“There’s so much involved with being pre-med, largely gaining experience to ensure medicine is the career path you truly want to follow.”

When not studying, volunteering or shadowing, this summer Kaylee has been enjoying cooking, spending time with friends, going to coffee shops and hiking.

Helen Kiser ’24

Helen Kiser, senior genetics major from Maryville, TN, has been researching, traveling, attending conferences and shadowing this summer.

During the academic year, Helen, who has a minor in biological sciences, volunteers with Camp Spearhead, a camp facility for children and adults with special needs specifically designed to meet the wide-ranging needs of our campers. Helen also participates in research with Dr. J. Antonio Baeza in the Biological Sciences Department.

“My spring research involved using various bioinformatic tools to create a novel genomic resource of the mitochondrial genome for the species Gonodactylaceus falcatus (the Philippine mantis shrimp).”

This summer Helen is a part of the Summer CI + UR Research Program. She is currently conducting bioinformatic research to characterize the mitochondrial genomes of 4 mantis shrimp and conducting an in-depth phylogenetic analysis to prove these 4 species are in fact unique species.

“My summer research is an extension of this project in order to create one comprehensive project of three other species in the same genus in order to create multiple novel genomic resources that both provide in-depth descriptions of each mitogenome and provide one phylogenetic analysis of the entire infraorder Stomatopoda.”

This research has led Helen to a published work and a presentation at The Crustacean Society’s 1st Summer Meeting in Taiwan this summer. Comparative analysis of the mitochondrial genomes of Smoothhound sharks provide insight into the phylogenetic relationships within the family Triakidae was published in the journal Elsevier.

“Despite attending the conference every day, I still was able to explore Taipei and Taiwan by going to one of the many night markets in the city, visiting the National Palace Museum, and just generally exploring.”

In addition to research and traveling, Helen has also been shadowing different genetic counselors all around Knoxville, TN this summer. She has shadowed at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, UT Medical Center and Thompson Cancer Survival Center.

“This will help I’m applying to graduate school in the fall for a Master’s Program in genetic counseling.”

She has also found time for hiking and taking couple personal trips to Portland and Philadelphia, where she attended a Phillies baseball game.

Katie Cross ’25

Katie Cross, a junior biochemistry major with minors in anthropology and plant pathology, is conducting a research project focusing on the effects of progesterone on craniofacial development this summer.

Originally from Roanoke, VA, Katie is involved in the Clemson Honors College, Clemson Club Swimming and the Delta Gamma sorority, where she serves as their director of sisterhood.

“During the academic year, I also participate in undergraduate research with Dr. Kara Powder studying the craniofacial development of cichlids and zebrafishes.”

This summer, she has been given the opportunity to conduct her own research project in Dr. Powder’s lab through Clemson Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research Summer program.

“My project focuses on the effects of progesterone on craniofacial development specifically on cichlid fish and how such developmental alterations can be interpreted to the hormone concentrations found in our everyday environment.”

Katie is thankful for the Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research Program. She appreciates that the program provides participating students with the resources to conduct their independent projects and coordinates weekly seminars with guest speakers to help students improve their professional development skills.

“We were also given the opportunity to volunteer for Ready, Set, Roar! Orientation, where groups share their Summer CI + UR experiences with incoming freshmen. I was able to present at an orientation recently with peers Kate Miller and Kristen Gulbrandson.”

While outside the lab, you may find Katie kayaking, reading in her hammock, listening to live music at the City of Clemson’s “On the Ave,” volunteering for the Clemson Aquatic Team, traveling to close destinations such as Charleston, SC or Athens, GA, or participating in a Barre class at Fike Recreation Center.

“Even though my research is my main priority this summer, I have still had plenty of time to enjoy all of the wonderful things Clemson has to offer.”

Helen Larkin ’24

Junior genetics and biochemistry major Helen Larkin is currently at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine researching the cycle of breast cancer cells for the summer.

Originally from Downers Grove, IL, Helen is minoring in Chemistry and Spanish studies and participates in many extracurriculars on campus. Her involvement includes acting as vice president for the Clemson Running Club, the philanthropic chair for the Alpha Omega Epsilon sorority and a member of the Genetics and Biochemistry Club.

In addition, Helen participates in research at Clemson, working in Dr. Jim Morris’s lab in the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center (EPIC) researching potential drug targets for diseases caused by protozoan parasites.

“This is quite different from the research I’m doing this summer, but the invaluable research skills I learned in Dr. Morris’s lab allowed me to jump right into my project in the Emanuele lab at UNC.”

Helen’s summer internship is through the Department of Pharmacology at the UNC School of Medicine. The lab that Helen is working is called the Emanuele Lab and is located in and associated with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a cancer research and treatment center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that serves patients N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital.

The research that Helen is focusing on is studying the growth and proliferation of human cell lines in order to better understand certain processes involved in cancer progression. The long-term goal is creating cancer therapies targeting cell proliferation.

“Specifically, I am working on analyzing specific proteins involved in the cell cycle of breast cancer cells in order to identify potential drug targets and methods of drug delivery.”

Outside of work, she is enjoying having the free time that sometimes the academic year doesn’t allow. In the afternoons and on the weekends, Helen enjoys hanging out with her new friends—roommates and other members of her program, reading and catching up on her favorite Netflix series.

“I’ve been exploring all that there is to do in Chapel Hill and the surrounding area—restaurants, shopping, farmers markets, hiking, etc.”

Kate Miller ’25

Kate Miller, a junior genetics major with a minor in biological sciences from Fort Mill, SC, is spending her summer at Clemson continuing her research of cichlids, a large family of freshwater fishes that can be found in Africa, Central and South America, parts of Jordan, Iran, India and Sri Lanka.

On campus, Kate is a part of the Honors College, the Club Swim Team, works at the concession stands at the sports games and is on the Beaker Box team, a group that creates and distributes educational science activities designed for the middle school.

“However, most important to Kate is her involvement in two Creative Inquiry (CI) programs, both led by Dr. Kara Powder.”

Since her sophomore year, Kate has been an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Powder’s lab, where she has been studying craniofacial development of cichlid fishes, a study that she has continued throughout the summer.

This summer with the Clemson Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research program, Kate is researching how estrogen exposure affects the craniofacial development of cichlids.

“Endocrine disruptors such as estrogen have been found in the environment due to pollution, and this research will show what may happen to the facial development of humans if exposed, especially in utero.”

Kate is making the most of her summer outside of the lab as well! She loves to go on hikes, watch movies, and spend as much time outside as possible, all of which she has been experiencing this summer in Clemson!

Disha Qanungo ’24

Senior genetics student Disha Qanungo is spending her summer volunteering at the Shifa Clinic, which is a medical clinic for uninsured and undocumented people and also serves as a food pantry for underserved people.

At the Shifa Clinic, Disha takes patients vitals, gets a history and an idea of why they’ve come to the clinic. In addition, she works in the food pantry packing boxes for families in need.

Occasionally, she will also assist the volunteer coordinator with planning for Health Fairs and other administrative tasks. Disha tries to squeeze in some fun as well, getting into some old hobbies.

I’ve been trying to get back into hobbies that I don’t normally have time for at school such as horseback riding, cooking, and art,” says Disha.

Disha is spending some of her summer horseback riding and painting.

Disha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and is minoring in Biochemistry and Anthropology. Disha hopes to attend medical school and specialize in Gynecology, her long-term goal being to create free clinics for women and children in developing countries.


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