A passion for laboratory research has led Steffi Cramer ’15 to explore the movement of bacteria in an Honors project titled, “Examining the amino acids in novel receptors that putatively regulate bacterial motility.”
Spending several hours in the lab each day, Cramer says one of her favorite aspects of her project is the “instant gratification” of the microbiology world. “You put things on a plate and let them grow,” says Cramer, a biochemistry major. “You don’t have to wait until the end of the experiment to get results.”
Under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biology Patricia Mowery, Cramer’s project extends an area of research that Mowery began as a postdoctoral fellow. Mowery says it’s exciting to get a student involved in extending the research and exploring new possibilities around the previous work.
Mowery says Cramer’s project will help broaden the understanding of how bacteria respond to their environment. Specifically, she says Cramer is “examining novel sensing receptors and their structural components.”
“Motile bacteria move towards key nutrients using receptors that are located at the one end of their cell. In essence the bacteria have a ‘nose’ that allows them to smell food and swim towards the source,” Mowery says. “This process has been studied for over 40 years in E. coli and it is important for numerous pathogen responses.”
Cramer began her research last spring, and has continued to work into this year. “Since I enjoy working with Professor Mowery and love the work that I am doing, I will most likely continue to work on it until I graduate, even if my Honors project is finished next fall,” she says.
Cramer’s current work is not her first experience in the lab. Last summer, Cramer worked for Associate Professor of Chemistry Justin Miller’s project, “HDACi Cancer Therapeutic Laboratory Project: Depsipeptide Analog Synthesis.” That project allowed students to create new analogs and synthesis pathways for different HDAC inhibitors, which are anticancer therapies. Cramer also plans on returning to Miller’s lab this summer.
“I look forward to coming into the lab,” Cramer says. “It’s the part of the day I look forward to the most. It’s fun.”
Cramer credits her interest in laboratory research to her professors. “I wouldn’t have gotten into the research world if I hadn’t formed relationships with my professors at HWS,” she says. “When you have a relationship to talk to your professors about their research it opens up a whole new world. I didn’t know that I would do any research in college. Now I do as much as I can.”