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Four Black Hills State University students recently presented at the student research poster session held in the State Capitol Rotunda in Pierre. Pictured left to right is Laurelin Cottingham, senior biology major from Rapid City; Jake Miller, junior biology major from Pierre; Riston Haugen, senior biology major from Baltic; and Tracy Kobbermann, junior biology major from Benson, Minn.

Four Black Hills State University undergraduate students presented their research projects recently to legislators, state officials, and the public at a poster session in the State Capitol Rotunda in Pierre.

Riston Haugen, senior biology major from Baltic, presented Evolution of Defense and Competitiveness: Transcript Profiling in a Close, Wild Relative of Arabidopsis thaliana. Haugen discussed his specific experiments and explained how competition between plants causes them to evolve defensive traits.

Laurelin Cottingham, senior biology major from Rapid City, presented her research on the smooth green snake, Genetic Variation in the Smooth Green Snake, Opheodrys vernalis, in South Dakota. Cottingham obtained data from microsatellite markers that will be used for genetic comparison of declining smooth green snake populations found in southeastern Canada and scattered populations throughout the U.S.

Tracy Kobbermann, junior biology major from Benson, Minn., presented Novel Alternative Splicing of a Tomato Calmodulin Gene Variant, Exon Shuffling, and the Evolution of New Genes in the Solanaceae Plant Family. Kobbermann discussed her findings and explained how this experimental system is being used to study and gain insight into exon shuffling, alternative gene splicing, and the evolution of genes in related plant families.

Jake Miller, junior biology major from Pierre, presented his research on the small minnow, finescale dace, titled, Genetic Population Structure of the Finescale Dace, Phoxinus neogaeus and Their Hybrids. Miller explained his research and discussed that the goal is to develop nuclear DNA markers by constructing a microsatellite enriched genomic library. These markers will be utilized to assess population structure and divergence between Black Hills minnow populations and the more prevalent eastern populations.

Students from all six of the public universities presented their research at the poster session. The event was cosponsored by the Board of Regents, the South Dakota NSF-EPSCoR (National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) and the South Dakota Academy of Science.