Black Hills State University student Mallory Ageton, biology major from Brandon, pictured with Board of Regents’ Executive Director & CEO Jack Warner during the recent South Dakota Research Poster Session in Pierre.
Mallory Ageton, biology major from Brandon, helps Dr. Brian Smith, BHSU professor of biology, extract venom from a rattlesnake.
Black Hills State University student Mallory Ageton, biology major from Brandon, was one of a dozen undergraduate students who recently presented their research work to state lawmakers in Pierre.

The South Dakota Student Research Poster Session showcases students’ research over a variety of disciplines and displays the important link between research and higher education. The annual event brings students and legislators together with the public and state agency personnel in a positive step toward achieving the interactions needed to ensure a robust system of higher education research for South Dakota.

Ageton joined BHSU biology professor Dr. Brian Smith’s research team as a Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) Fellow in the summer of 2011 and has been a fellow since. Her research involves studying variation in venom components associated with habitat, prey and geography among populations of prairie rattlesnakes in the Black Hills.

Ageton is researching three groups of rattlesnakes, one from Colorado, and two from the Black Hills, that are geographically widespread and vary in prey availability and habitat. So far, Ageton and the BHSU research team have isolated proteins from venom of snakes from all the groups.

The proteins in venom interfere with locomotion functions of the prey that is bitten with some proteins causing shock faster.

The work conducted by Ageton and the research team may help in the treatment of bites, as variation in venom components may affect the recovery of bite victims.

The 12 students were selected from the state’s six public universities as well as from other colleges and universities by the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (SD BRIN) and South Dakota’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) programs.