Natasha Weiser '10 Presents Research to State Legislature

Maki Somosot '12

Natasha Weiser '10 Presents
Research to State Legislature

by Maki Somosot '12
3/26/2010

Natasha Weiser '10
"I hope that the legislators who we met and who came to our posters came away with an appreciation for the breadth and depth of undergraduate research and for the important role that it plays in undergraduate scientific education," says Natasha Weiser '10, here with State Senator Ted Erickson (R-PA 26).

Natasha Weiser '10, an honors major in biology with a minor in chemistry and French from Merion Station, Pa., recently presented her research at a state legislators' conference in Harrisburg, Pa. The goal of the conference was to emphasize the importance of undergraduate research, its relevance in the formation of state legislation, and its future implications for solving complex biological problems.

Weiser, selected to represent the College at the conference by the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering, has worked alongside Professor of Biology Amy Cheng Vollmer for the past two years. Over the course of their joint research, which focuses on the activation of Escherichia coli stress genes in response to aggravating environmental factors, Weiser discovered that mutations in a Universal Stress Protein could affect its ability to regulate gene activation.

"This may have important implications for the ability of the cells to survive the stress," Weiser says. "This would also help us understand how the cell regulates the genetic response for stress."

"[Weiser] has developed a great deal of confidence in the design, execution, and analysis of elegant experiments in bacterial physiology and genetics," Vollmer says. "Having the challenge of explaining her work to legislators will prepare her to be accountable to those who support her work, such as taxpayers."

According to Weiser,the highlight of the conference was the opportunity to interact with State Senator Ted Erickson, a former biochemist who now represents both Delaware and Chester Counties. "It was really interesting to hear about how a scientific career ended up leading him to a political one," she says. "I also got to see the House and the Senate start their sessions, which was pretty interesting. I hope that the legislators who we met and who came to our posters came away with an appreciation for the breadth and depth of undergraduate research and for the important role that it plays in undergraduate scientific education."

Weiser will present her research for the second time at the American Society of Microbiology conference this May and plans to pursue biomedical research as an M.D.-Ph.D. student next year. Weiser is also currently involved in the Science for Kids program with the Chester Children's Chorus.