SOAR Student Profiles

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith

  • SOAR Position: Member; Alumni
  • Major: Biochemistry
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Tony Farone; Dr. Mary Farone

Current Focus: Survey of Mosquito Predatory Ciliate Lambornella for Potential Biological Control, Survey of Protozoa Interaction with Pathogens for Food Safety

Additional Interests: Horseback Riding, Hiking, and domestic/international travel

Project Description

I am currently working on two research projects under the guidance of Drs. Mary and Tony Farone. On my first project, I am a part of a fantastic team of student researchers working on identifying a unicellular ciliated protozoan (Lambornella). This project consists of finding, identifying, and culturing Lambornella utilizing many techniques such as DNA Extraction and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Once identified and cultured, we are exploring the parasite-like predatory behavior of Lambornella to utilize the protozoan as a natural mosquito control. This is a significant project because utilization of Lambornella as a biological mosquito control would be a natural and organic method of mosquito control which could potentially replace current pesticides. The second research project I am working on is a food safety project in which we are analyzing protozoa, such as amoebae, on produce items. We are looking to see how amoebae feed on the bacteria to determine how the bacteria thrives in the environment. The study involves isolating protozoa from common produce items from both grocery stores and directly from produce farms. The goal is to study the protozoa isolates to determine whether or not they are capable of protecting food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. If successful, this project could have a significant affect on future of produce items.

Why does this topic interest you?

I am continually intrigued by science, and the opportunity to discover new things. These research topics interest me because I believe they have the potential to lead to significant breakthroughs that will benefit people beyond the classroom and laboratory. These Lambornella and Food Safety studies could potentially lead to significant drops in mosquito borne diseases and sickness from food-borne pathogens.

What are your professional aspirations?

I am currently pursuing medical school with aspirations of becoming a physician.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Research is fun! Research opens up so many opportunities for students, and I believe if given the opportunity every student should check it out. Researching gives you time with your research mentor to gain a great deal of knowledge as well as the essential skill of working productively with other people. The skills gained from research are not only beneficial for the classroom but useful for wherever life may take you.

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