I am a 4th year Biology (B.A.) major. I am a member of Tri beta – a biological sciences honor society – and am about to start volunteering as an EMT with a local fire department. I came to the University of Texas almost 2 years ago from a small private school in North Carolina. My first semester here I was fortunate to begin working as an undergraduate in the Gore lab. I was matched with Sarah Dickerson – her project on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) really fascinated me. Coming into college I never saw myself doing research but after taking 2 courses: an intro to research and ‘Environmental Toxicology’ I was very interested in getting some experience and seeing how/if I liked it. I am so glad I did.
The project that I have been working on with Sarah is one of the EDC projects. We are looking at how developmental exposure to PCBs influences the neonate, pubertal, and adult rat. There is strong evidence to suggest that treatment during a ‘critical window’ in fetal development has both an immediate as well as a long-term effect on the animal. A landmark of interest in the adult animals is estrogen receptor (ER) alpha expression in the a region of the hypothalamus called the anteroventral periventricular nucleus (AVPV) that is involved in the control of reproduction. Currently I am quantifying the expression of this receptor in this region [AVPV].