Interactions of GNRH2 with ABPP -Savvy Cornett 15F

Updated: Oct 13, 2018

Savvy Cornett 15F examines the interactions of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone II (GNRH2) with Amyloid Beta Precursor Protein (ABPP) as their DIV III project

Full DIV title: Interactions of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone II (GNRH2) with Amyloid Beta Precursor Protein (ABPP)

What does your DIV III project involve?

The gonadotropin releasing hormone 2 (GNHR 2) is an evolutionary conserved peptide hormone and it’s expressed in nearly all vertebrates with some exceptions. It’s expressed through out the body and it’s function is unknown. It doesn’t do same thing as GNRH 1 which causes the onset of puberty among other things. But that’s what it’s known for.

Inside the Hampshire College's Cole Science Center lab where tissue culture is conducted
The Cave where Savvy experiments on tissue culture

What inspired you to create it?

I got into it because I’m interested in sexual differentiation. I was really intreated in that. There was no feasible way to do that as a DIV III project. I wanted to do parrotfish which undergo natural sex change. I want to study behavior and neurophysiology before and after they under go their sex changes which wasn’t feasible as a DIV III project. One of my professors mentioned to me GNHR2 and said we don’t know what it does, but know it’s really old. The amyloid-beta precursor protein (ABPP) is the only protein that is reported to interact with GNHR. It has only been reported once. So I’m looking into that piece of evidence to see its impact on intracellular signaling.

Scientific notes of a Hampshire College student's final year project
Meticulous notes on Savvy's DIV III

How is the project going so far?

I was [at Hampshire] over the summer on a grant to work out the early on kinks of my project. Right now It’s going well, in short. Progress is slow, but that’s the nature of lab work and I’m prepared for it. I wish it was going faster because I’m little inpatient, but I'll get there.

How has this project helped your understanding in your concentration?

I’ve defiantly learned a lot more about signaling pathways and how you can use them as tools to figure out what’s happening. It’s also taught me a lot of patience because I’m bad at that. I’m very curious how [the genes] work because a lot of scientific writing of sex hormones is very misleading which has frustrated me. Another reason is because a lot of thing are considered either male or female. Masculinization and feminization is used lot. Their words mean nothing unless you assume sexes are separate and different and that there is no variation in between. It’s a very non-binary thing how hormones work. It’s especially present with GNHR2 with how ubiquitous it is in vertebrates throughout sex.

The Batman, a microscope of the Cole Science Center of Hampshire College
"The Batman" in the Cave

In what ways has Hampshire helped you?

Hampshire has allowed me to study this project especially as an undergrad because I can conduct my own research and not be a minion for an advisor. One day I hope to publish this data. I don’t know if it’s an achievable goal, but it’s a goal. "The Batman" in the Cave

Take a look into Savvy's process of making tissue cultures

Image descriptions:

1. Retrieving plates of cells from the incubator

2. Feeding” transfected cells with fresh media

3. Treating cells

4. Treating cells with a cell-ection (selection) agent to kill off cells not expressing my genes

5. Storage of cells in -20ºC (-4ºF) freezer

Where are you from?

I’m from Louisville, Kentucky. My uncle lives outside of Boston and his boss went to Hampshire. So the reason he liked her is because she was able to write very well. And that was how he discovered Hampshire. I really liked [Hampshire] because I don’t like taking tests and they’re arbitrary.

I really like it up in New England. I know when I was applying for colleges I wanted to go in New England. Another reason is I like snow which we don’t have at home. I really wanted to come up here. The winter of my senior year in high school closed down one day in Boston because of snow. And my first year at Hampshire there was no snow.

Sometimes I do miss home especially in the Spring. I miss it getting warmer faster. I remember my first year at Hampshire. Day light savings threw me off because back home it gets dark 6:30pm. and it gets dark here at 4pm in the winter. I never considered Massachusetts that far north.

How do you like Hampshire?

I really enjoy it. Every school has its problems. My high school naturally set me up for a school like Hampshire. I went to a really weird high school in Louisville: St Francis, The School of Thought. It was a really weird place. I wanted a similar college. Hampshire seemed like the one. We had to do tests, but only because many colleges need tests. Most things were essay based, lots of projects and a senior project. You still have to take a bunch of classes during your last year though. A very Hampshire-like place. It was started by a priest by a local church who wanted to create a non denominational school.

What do you not like about Hampshire?

I don’t like how early a lot of places close, namely food places. I wish the Bridge, the Kern and SAGA were open later. My first year it was a pain to know I had to get food before 8pm. That was always a bummer. Another thing is that it’s always known as an artsy school. I think our cognitive science and science programs are really great because its undergrads are getting to do graduate research. They would not have to join a project their faculty member is doing. They get to do their own project. I wish that got more shout-outs in a mainstream sense. I know we are known for Ken Burns who is cool. There were some great scientists that came out of Hampshire. There is Dr. Lucy who is a very accomplished planetary astronomer. She’s one who donates a lot to the graduate gift challenge. There’s also Kathryn Lord who taught here a little. She’s amazing. She taught animal behavior. I took her Field Methods class and loved it. That’s one reason I felt comfortable to include animal behavior in my DIV II. One of the faculty members here described Hampshire has a graduate school for undergrads. That resonates with me a lot. It’s nice to know who you are as a scholar outside the test grades.

I was also doing a project at UMass and they have very interesting herpetology lab and lots of interesting reptiles. They had at least two pythons, snakes, tortoises and a large turtle creature.

The -80ºC (-112ºF) Freezer

What's one thing you would change in this world?

I would want to make global climate change not a thing. And the patriarchy I’d squish that, too. If I had some spare time I’d punch some nazis. I would also lock Rosalind Franklin's door. She’s the scientist who discovered the DNA helix shape, but then her data was stolen. She’s getting more and more credit now. For a very long time she was dismissed. James Watson was the racist, eugenist who got credit for it. It took too long for people to realize that. I would lock her door so people couldn’t steal her research. She’s such a cool person.

What is your biggest struggle?

I would say my biggest struggle is probably a mix of being really anxious of everything and also doing everything and wanting to go to bed and sleep. My biggest struggle is also prioritizing myself. If I could, I would take every class I could. I would also not be able to work on my DIV. So making time for everything without overselling myself.

What is something interesting that happened to you?

The biggest thing that comes to mind in relation to who I am and like to do was probably in organic chemistry. The first section of [a group project] there’s an experiment where you have to figure out what happened without any context in this reaction. You get an array of chemicals. Some run and some don’t and you have to figure out why. No context. So my friend and I worked three days in a row. We spent hours pouring our brains over it, digging into our notes and data, trying to figure out what happened. We were right here the night we figured out. We were writing out on the chalkboard and really digging. Then it got to the point were we were piecing things to together and there was a moment were we got it. It was a together-kind of moment. It was powerful and inspiring. Because of that I felt more confident to do organic chemistry. It kind of led me to bio-chemistry which is a big part of my DIV III project now. So because of that is why I have the confidence that I do.

Words of wisdom to new Hampshire students?

Come to the sciences; we have dogs. There are a lot of dogs in this building. Also, it’s okay to fail. Failure is essential in learning. And it’s only a failure if you give up right there. If you see it as an opportunity to learn something, it’s not a failure. Don’t let failure defeat you because it’s not a failure; it’s a learning moment.

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