The Mudd supports students across all academic disciplines. Laura Deneckere, a biology major from Madison, Wisconsin, was kind enough to chat with us about the extensive biology research she has been conducting in the library.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

The library is a great resource, not only for special research projects, but also for routine classwork! The librarians and student workers genuinely want to help, are easy to approach and will go to great lengths to assist you with absolutely anything you need.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing your research?

I have used many immunology and invertebrate textbooks from the library in order to broaden my overall understanding of molluscan immunity.

One of the most useful tools that I have used is the Interlibrary Loan service (ILL). This tool is extremely easy to use and you generally receive your requested materials very quickly! Through this service I have accessed current journal and book chapters from around the world.

Enough about us. What are you researching, Laura?

I am researching the evolutionarily conserved nuclear factor-kappa B(NF-κB) pathway in the snail, Biomphalaria glabrata. This species of snail serves as the intermediate host for the trematode Schistosoma mansoni, which causes the debilitating tropical disease schistosomiasis in humans. The broader aim of my project is to determine if NF-κB is regulating immune responses in the snail. I am using bioinformatics and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) to address this question, and am very fortunate to be using Dr. Judith Humphries’s research lab. Thank you Dr. Humphries!

Why do you think this research is important?

The snail plays an essential role in the schistosomiasis life cycle, so molecular-based research is important for furthering our knowledge of the snail’s defense strategies and overall immune-related responses. With over 210 million people affected annually, schistosomiasis is the third most devastating disease in the world, following only malaria and intestinal helminthiasis.

How did you become interested in this line of research?

I have been extremely privileged to work alongside Dr. Humphries in her research laboratory. I was initially interested in her work because of my overall passion for tropical medicine and public health.

In fact, Laura’s interest in public health has led to plans to spend a gap year serving the broader community. As for more long-term goals, she plans to obtain a Master of Science degree in Public Health with an emphasis in infectious diseases.

Given Laura’s savvy use of the resources available to her in the library and at Lawrence, we are certain that she will accomplish all of her goals.

Thank you for answering our questions, Laura!