Lilly Pieper ’18 has been awarded a 2016 American Microscopical Society Student Fellowship to support her research with Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Simon Coppard’s research group on the “Evolution and expression of venom genes in sea urchin pedicellariae.”
Hometown: Pittsford, NY
High School: Pittsford Mendon High School
Sea urchins have evolved venomous jawed appendages termed globiferous pedicellariae to prevent and limit the effects of predation and parasitism. The Coppard research group is looking at how venom genes have evolved in different sea urchin lineages through time in response to specific predators and parasites and how sea urchin venom proteins have been “weaponized” to target specific vertebrates and invertebrates.
Pieper’s research will for the first time use florescence in situ hybridizations and the confocal microscope in the Biology department to visualize in which venom glands different venom genes are expressed. This study will provide a foundation for a proteomic and functional study to determine the potential use of the different sea urchin venom components as clinical reagents.