Include Name on all Postings

Please include your name in your blog posting. This is necessary to properly search and find blog posts published by a certain person. Although the blog lists the name of the person publishing the post near the title of the post, the website,, does not allow you to search for all postings by a particular person ... or, I, at least, haven't figured out a way to do this. So - please add your name somewhere in the posting.

Posted by Gwen Stovall

Scholarship Opportunity: Department of Homeland Security Education Programs

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Education Programs

DHS Scholarship Program
Supporting students interested in pursuing the basic science and technology innovations that can be applied to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mission.

* Undergraduate students
* U.S. citizenship required
* Funding available for fall 2011
* Full tuition and monthly stipends
* Includes 10-week summer internships at federal research facilities or university-based DHS Centers of Excellence
* Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program

Providing a 10-week summer research experience for undergraduate students majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM).

* Undergraduate students
* U.S. citizenship required
* Funding available for Summer 2011
* 10-week summer research experiences at federal research facilities
* $500 weekly stipends plus transportation expenses to/from the internship location
* Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

Complete information is available online at

Questions regarding the DHS Education Programs can be sent via e-mail to

posted by Gwen Stovall

Research Opportunity: Dr. Christine Duvauchelle (Pharmacy) seeking Student Research Assistant

A brief description of research project:
Preventing relapse to drug use is one of the most difficult obstacles in
treating cocaine addiction. A notorious trigger for cocaine relapse is cocaine
craving: a subjective, emotional response that can be activated by
cocaine-associated cues. We are working on a project to develop animal models
of cocaine craving in cocaine-experienced rats by recording ultrasonic
vocalizations (USVs) that rats emit while occupying cocaine-predictive
environments. Though undetectable to the human ear, rats communicate using
ultrasonic vocalizations that vary in a number of characteristics, including
bandwidth, frequency and duration. USVs can express positive and negative
emotional states that are readily discernible and differ in frequency ranges
and duration. We have recently shown that positive USVs reflecting positive
emotion are emitted by rats when they anticipate or self-administer cocaine,
but decrease during when cocaine is no longer available. We have also found
that after periods of abstinence from cocaine, USVs increase when cocaine or
cues associated with cocaine are encountered. USVs are a direct reflection of
emotional states, and our data suggest that USVs may signal cocaine craving in
a drug-free environment. In addition, we plan to use USVs as targets for
pharmacological intervention. This new understanding of cocaine relapse will
help to develop long-term treatments and begin to solve the problems of drug

A brief description of the responsibilities of the student assistant:
New students in the laboratory start out by learning how to analyze and
tabulate USV data, prepare XL spreadsheets and graphs and attend laboratory
meetings for the first semester. If the student shows proficiency in those
tasks and in the responsibilities associated with being in a research
laboratory, they may move to tasks requiring more hourly commitments and
responsibility, such as animal handling (rats), assisting in training rats
in operant tasks and assisting senior students in their experiments. With
additional training, some students may be allowed to observe and assist in
animal surgery.

The semester(s) you would like the student to be available:
Spring 2011 with special preference given to students who can volunteer in the
laboratory over the summer

A list of any special qualifications or restrictions for applicants:
Undergraduate science major (including psychology)

Instructions regarding how to apply (e.g. what materials you want from
students, how you want to be contacted and by what deadline):
Please include resume that includes personal statement and grade summary

posted by Gwen Stovall

A fine picture to get you through finals

Life works this way in many respects. Good luck in finals. I had a blast this semester with you all and look forward to watching your trajectories through college and beyond (yes, I'll try to keep tabs on all of you).

The Aptamer Database (Final Manuscript)

Introduction and Background:

The Aptamer database is a comprehensive collection of Aptamer related articles of experiments already completed and in the works. This database would be more effective than other search engines such as PubMed, because this database will be focused only on Aptamers and aptamer related experiments which have connections to either therapeutic and diagnostic uses. This project was already begun years ago however due to some extraneous situations was discontinued, so the task that was at hand was basically continuing the database project by collecting and updating research articles, revamping the website and reorganizing the articles that were already found. Along with a fellow colleague from the Aptamer stream the years of interest were divided. Articles from 2009-2010 and

Materials and Methods:

v Laptop with internet connection

v Pre-installed internet browser (ex. Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.)

v Mendeley Desktop (free download—

In order to effectively download a PDF format of the articles a Mendeley account was created with the aptamer stream email and password in order to sync all the articles found to one shared location. The search program Mendeley Desktop was also downloaded in order to effectively import the PDF form of the article once found. Also by doing so, the collection of PDF files could be synced up and other members of the lab could easily upload any articles that fit the criteria of the database. By also using the Mendeley Bookmarklet, incorporating articles was also made possible. However, for these programs to be effective, the pop-up blocker that was already installed in the laptop had to be disabled. The first step was to look into the database and collect more articles that did not already exist in the database. To begin finding primary articles, an analysis of reviews that were provided was done. The tables in the reviews presented a list of selected aptamers with references. With these references, the selections were searched for on pubmed and downloaded into Mendeley. When this was completed, more articles were located including data of people have used aptamers and the original aptamer publication for the particular aptamer were also found. The main goal for the research is the original selections of aptamers.


With the task of focusing mainly on the years 2009 and 2010 the search for articles has been quite successful. Currently there are about 112 articles save in the Mendeley library and 50 more articles yet to be uploaded from another saved document. These articles should be completely uploaded by the end of the month. Unfortunately due to some medical circumstances, there were a couple of weeks where the uploaded of articles was kept on hold, however the process of searching for articles still continues.

Future Work

After finding about 500 articles, the next step is to create an up-to-date database which will have all sorts of information that is not immediately apparent by cursory glance. The next step is to transfer literature from Mendeley to the database in probably an XML file of some sort. The articles already found will be imported and organized with an effective organization method which involves restricted field names that limits the input to the criteria set for the database. The database would also be a beneficial tool for those interested in aptamers, or currently doing research or experimentation involving aptamers. For example, the most common selection buffer or the most common 4 nucleotide sequences, or even the most common random region that produces aptamers. This database could also be used as an informative source to determine if a skewed pool or random pool is more beneficial for screening aptamers.


This project, being one of a kind was quite exciting to work on, however, it requires constant work to download and import the database manually from pubmed. The articles imported so far contains much useful information that will be beneficial for fellow scientists and researchers that are focusing on the production and uses of aptamers both in the therapeutic and diagnostic fields. Therefore, much work is yet to be done to increase the number of sources available in the Mendeley library.