Appler presents at American Society for Microbiology Conference

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2017-07-05 11:12:45 - General

Recent Coe College graduate Kathryn Appler presented her research at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting and participated in the Microbe Academy for Professional Development, held last month in New Orleans. The opportunity came as the result of Appler being selected as a recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

The ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship is aimed at highly competitive students that represent the best and brightest rising young scientists who wish to pursue graduate careers in biology. In April of 2016, the ASM awarded fellowships to 42 of the 85 applicants, but only 12 of the students were from undergraduate and masters' granting institutions. Each fellow receives up to a $4,000 stipend and funding for travel expenses to the annual ASM Microbe meeting.

Appler graduated summa cum laude on May 7 with majors in biology and sociology. While at Coe, she completed the College Scholars Program, graduating with distinction in biology. Appler is also a member of several honorary societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Mortar Board, Alpha Lambda Delta and Strata. At Honors Convocation, Appler received the Courtney Award in athletics, the DeJong Biology Research Award, the E.E. Erickson Award in sociology, and the Alpha Lambda Delta Maria Leonard Senior Book Award. While at Coe, she also participated in May Term study abroad trips to Belize and Southern Africa.

Outside of the classroom, Appler was a member of the Coe women's swimming and diving team, serving as captain and a member of the All-Iowa Conference, All-Championship and All-Academic Teams. Throughout her time at Coe, she has been involved as the secretary of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), was a supplemental instructor for biology, and served as vice president of Mortar Board. In addition, Appler was a Coe Writing Center consultant all four years.

As a freshman, Appler came to Coe intending to become a physical therapist, but also had some interest in marine biology. It was through her work with Coe Biology Professor Dr. Michael Leonardo that Appler realized research was something she wanted to pursue. Leonardo served as Appler's First-Year Seminar professor, advisor and mentor throughout her time at Coe.

"Before gaining experience in a Coe laboratory, I hadn't taken any microbiology classes. Dr. Leonardo really gave me a chance to conduct research." said Appler. "During my two summers of research with Professor Leonardo, I discovered that biological research is exactly what I want to study."

Appler's research involved the study of two different species of bacteria, and she studied how these aquatic microbes interact together. Her senior thesis was entitled "Impact on Vibrio parahaemolyticus Biofilm Formation and Architecture When Grown in Co-Culture with Various Shewanella Species."

"We are trying to better understand the communication pathways of bacteria, and this research helps us understand how bacterium work together," said Appler. "This makes it easier to target specific bacterium when treating disease."

To earn the ASM Fellowship, Appler submitted a proposal of her Coe research to the ASM Microbe fellowship committee. She was later selected to present her research as a poster and as a poster talk at the meeting based on her abstract.

Appler is especially appreciative of the help she has received from Professor Leonardo. Among other things, Dr. Leonardo facilitated a research connection with Dr. Linda McCarter, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, who provided initial information and bacteria samples for Appler's research.

"Professor Leonardo brought the ASM award to my attention, and helped me through the process of completing all of the steps required for the fellowship," said Appler.

This summer, Appler has an internship at the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working in the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory. With an interest in marine biology, Appler has the opportunity to work with different species of seals and sea lions, and is studying their metabolic capabilities, acoustics and sensory system characteristics.

Appler is currently applying to graduate schools and plans to earn a graduate degree in marine biology. She hopes to use both her undergraduate biology and sociology majors to help her study the interconnection between policy and science.

A graduate of Valley Community High School, Kathryn is the daughter of Kent and Laura Appler of Clermont, Iowa.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 48,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates. 

Kathryn Appler presented her research at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting and participated in the Microbe Academy for Professional Development.
Kathryn Appler presented her research at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting and participated in the Microbe Academy for Professional Development.