Cypriniformes Tree of Life and
US Army E-cybermission in Science and Technology

During the summer of 2006 seven St Louis metro area high school students had an opportunity to participate in the Cypriniformes Tree of Life (CToL) project as a direct result of the financial support of E-cybermission, a science, math, and technology program administered by the U.S. Army.  The E-cybermission program sponsors competitions aimed at solving real-world, community-based problems using science, math, and technology.  Successful competitors were then matched with local research institutions, like Saint Louis University, for lab-based research experience.  The funding provided by E-cybermission allowed these students to spend a month working in the Biology Department at Saint Louis University, learning the basics of molecular lab techniques and conducting basic scientific research. 

As part of their training, they developed many skills in molecular techniques (including DNA extraction, PCR, cycle sequencing), data analysis and management (including sequence alignment, data matrix assembly), and phylogenetic methodology/analysis (including computer applications like BioEdit, MacClade, MrBayes, PAUP, Se-Al). 

Their project focused on the relationships of the North American shiner genus, Luxilus, which currently has nine recognized species.  The students collected sequence data from a mitochondrial locus (COI) and a nuclear locus (IRBP) for 16 representative individuals of the genus.  Their research was summarized in a poster titled: “The Study of Evolutionary Relationships of Minnows in the Genus Luxilus.”

The students included Carolyn Beatty, Christine Brethorst, Bretton DeLaria, Daniel Everding, Jennifer Hannon, Kyle Mayden, Kaitlin O’Brien, all of whom were either Sophomores or Juniors (as of fall 2006) in high school, and some of which are profiled below.

PIs Mayden and Wood hosted these students in their laboratories and they worked closely with Drs. Kevin Tang and Wei-Jen Chen and Ms Miranda Haskins. All of the students were from the St. Louis Metro area in both Illinois and Missouri.

The students had a wonderful experience, many of whom met for the first time. All of the students hoped to be invited back in the summer 2007 for continuing studies.

Carolyn Beatty

High School E-Cybermission participant

Department of Biology
3507 Laclede Ave
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2010

I am Carolyn Beatty and I am a junior at St. Joseph’s Academy. I got involved in this internship with SLU through an ecybermission contest. My freshman science teacher got me involved in this program. The ecybermission program is sponsored by the US army and the project that I turned in was testing to see if laptop cases were really protective of their laptops. My group came up with this idea because at my school we have laptops cases that are bulky and a hassle to carry around.
Some of my interests are softball, track, and dance.

Christy Brethorst

High School E-Cybermission participant

Department of Biology
3507 Laclede Ave
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2010

I am a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Academy.  I did a science experiment with a team my freshman year and won a $2000 savings bond. My science teacher told me I also had the choice to apply for an internship at a university. My parents and I both thought it was a great idea. I applied and then about a month later I was accepted. I  decided that this internship would give me the opportunity to see what a career in a scientific field would be like. I also thought it would be a good experience.

Jen Hannon

High School E-Cybermission participant

Department of Biology
3507 Laclede Ave
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2010

I am going to be a Junior at Columbia High School.  I was offered a spot in this program by Ecybermission.  I participated in Ecybermission since seventh grade until my freshmen year.  My groups projects for Ecybermission had to do with keeping our water clean.  After freshmen year I was too old for the program so they offered me this internship. I decided it would be a great learning opportunity.
I am interested in reading and driving.

Kyle Mayden

High School E-Cybermission participant

Department of Biology
3507 Laclede Ave
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2010

My name is Kyle Mayden and I am a sophomore at John F. Kennedy. I love to play tennis. I was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My interests include girls, animals, tennis, T.V., movies, hanging out with friends. When I grow up I would like to become a vet, get married, and have kids. I would also like to travel the world and see Australia, Asia, Antarctica, and other continents. I grew up using electro-shockers, dip nets, seines, and fishing poles to catch fish for my Dad’s Studies. I also have many of the Cypriniformes species in my fish tank just waiting for you to analyze them.

Katie O'Brien

High School E-Cybermission participant

Department of Biology
3507 Laclede Ave
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2010

I am a junior at St. Joseph’s Academy. I became involved with this internship at SLU by winning a science contest sponsored by the United States Army called Ecybermission. My group project involved testing the reliability of laptop cases. My group and I concluded that bigger laptop cases are not necessarily better. It all depends on the right amount of padding and protection. Other interests of mine include soccer, running, reading, and driving.

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