Senior Awarded Top Billing at Research Symposium

Friday, August 16th, 2013

West Virginia Wesleyan College senior Zachery Lonergan, a biology major from Elkins, WV, spent his summer at the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) at West Virginia University.

Eleven students from around the country participated in the competitive research program that is held at various universities each year.  WVU’s portion was entitled “Biological Responses to the Environment from Genes to the Ecosystem.”  Lonergan worked with Dr. Jen Gallagher, an assistant professor in the biology department at WVU, to study the genes responsible for conferring copper resistance in yeast.

This program, along with other summer research programs, culminated with the WVU Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 25th on the Morgantown campus.  During the Symposium, student researchers presented posters of their summer’s work.  Ninety-two posters in total were placed into four categories based on which area of research with which they corresponded.  Lonergan received first place for the Biological and Health Sciences category for his poster on “Genetic variation and copper resistance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

“This experience was really independent, and I was able to take ownership of the research I was conducting,” stated Lonergan.  “I learned to execute complex protocols by myself and watch my project take shape. I grew as both a scientist and a critical thinker, and I am ready to move forward into a biomedical graduate program after graduation.”

Lonergan has taken advantage of many opportunities such as this during his time at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and he understands how these opportunities can make a difference.

“The problem-solving skills I developed at Wesleyan allowed me to excel in the REU program,” Lonergan reflected.  “The biology department has done a great job educating me about different types of experiments and how to interpret results that may not be expected. I am grateful for my professors who have taught me to connect my work to bigger ideas and other research fields.”

For more information on the School of Science, please contact Dr. Luke Huggins, school director, at