salamanders

A Big Catch: Biology Ph.D. Student Paul Hime Snags an NSF Fellowship for his Evolutionary Genomic Work on Amphibians

Salamanders, one of the oldest lineages of extant animals, are beloved by Biology Ph.D. student, Paul Hime. Some of Hime’s research subjects, however, may not be on the top of everyone’s cute animal list.

Undergraduate Research at UK with Gareth Voss (Part 1)

As a Paul Laurence Dunbar High School student, Gareth ("Gary") Voss came to the University of Kentucky to do research on the regenerative abilities of salamanders in Dr. Randal Voss's lab. Gary says, "At Dunbar in the Math-Science program, we have to join a faculty member at UK for a research project by the beginning of our junior year. And I heard about a professor at UK, who shared the same last name and the same first name, more or less, as my dad and his name is Randall Voss and he studies salamanders and regeneration.Things kind of clicked and I’ve been there ever since."

Gary's high-school project focused on tail regeneration. He notes, "I was not allowed to do any of the surgeries to remove the tails, but I was able to do the data analysis on the tails, and do a lot of interesting things in studying the regeneration of the salamanders."

Gary is now a freshman at UK majoring in biology and chemistry, and he says getting started early in research is really an advantage. "Getting started early gets you exposed to all the things you need to know. I was exposed to more things in genetics than most people my age would have been. Working in the lab not only puts you on the cutting edge of research and science, but it also lets you see all the things your classes are talking about in person, and to a greater extent."

Produced by Alicia P. Gregory (Research Communications), videography/direction by Chad Rumford (Research Communications)

For more information on Dr. Voss' lab, please visit ambystoma.org/

This video appears courtesy of Reveal: University of Kentucky Research Media research.uky.edu/reveal/index.shtml

Undergraduate Research at UK with Gareth Voss (Part 2)

Gareth ("Gary") Voss came to the University of Kentucky to do research on the regenerative abilities of salamanders as a sophomore in high school. Now a freshman at UK, Gary has conducted research that resulted in two papers. "They're very good papers," says his UK mentor Dr. Randal Voss. "We're not just talking about a couple of throw-away papers to 'Ranger Rick' journal. We're sending these papers to the top journals in the United States.

"It really is a coup for UK when we can get our top local talent to stay in state. Gary's a National Merit Scholar, and he could have gone to any university he wanted to, but he chose to come to UK."

To learn more about Dr. Voss' lab, visit ambystoma.org/

Produced by Alicia P. Gregory (Research Communications), videography/direction by Chad Rumford (Research Communications)

This video appears courtesy of Reveal: University of Kentucky Research Media research.uky.edu/reveal/index.shtml

Randal Voss: Salamander Research at UK

At any given time, hundreds of salamanders are being bred at the University of Kentucky. "We have the only captive-bred salamander population in the world where people can call us up, and we can do the breedings, make those resources and ship them out nationally and internationally," says Randal Voss, a professor of biology and faculty associate of the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC).

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Army Research Office, Voss is studying salamander regeneration—something that may one day help people with spinal cord and limb injuries. He is involved in sequencing the salamander genome, and says he has been able to identify genes that explain variation in the rate of regeneration. "But most of the traits that we care about are very complicated in their nature. How long we live, how much we weigh, or the time at which we metamorphose, or regenerate, is probably determined by hundreds to thousands of genes."

In this complex research, Voss says UK offers him a number of advantages over other universities. Close proximity to the medical researchers with whom he collaborates through SCoBIRC, as well as his colleagues in Biology, is one advantage. Another is shared scientific equipment, like the laster capture microscope he's using to select single chromosomes. "One of the great things about UK is we've got a number of these common core facilities, and the instrumentation is there, the expertise is there to help you."

Produced by Alicia P. Gregory (Research Communications), videography/direction by Chad Rumford (Research Communications)

This video appears courtesy of Reveal: University of Kentucky Research Media research.uky.edu/reveal/index.shtml

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