The LIFE Scholars Summer Research Program provides an opportunity for students to work with a faculty member to develop research skills and an understanding of opportunities in science and research.

Undergraduate LIFE Scholars

Trenton BevanTrenton Bevan

Consumption of plant foods rich in polyphenols and dietary nitrate are associated in clinical studies with decreased blood pressure and risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke. The aim of this proposal is to fund the development of a method to estimate total dietary polyphenol consumption. This is one of the two methods we will use to assess the effect of dietary factors on blood pressure using dietary, blood plasma and urine from participants in the human cohort study called REASONS for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). This cohort of 30,239 participants from the 48 contiguous United States were recruited between 2003 and 2007 and continue to be followed up. The primary goal of REGARDS was to understand the reasons that stroke mortality is higher in the stroke buckle (coastal plain of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) and stroke belt (North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas)
regions of the Southeastern US, compared with the rest of the country, as well as the reasons for the increased stroke mortality in blacks compared to whites.


Kelsey CaplesKelsey Caples

Over the course of the summer, I will test whether long live species are more efficient at degrading misfolded proteins compared with short-lived species by comparing the total amount of aggregates found in in vitro cultures. We are also investigating the link between the degradation of these misfolded proteins and autophagy, one mechanism used to degrade a multitude of things. Using a detergent treatment, and gel electrophoresis, we will be able to relatively quantify the amount of misfolded proteins in the different species.


Aaron SugiyamaAaron Sugiyama

When healthy cells are exposed to some stressor, they can undergo a series of changes that results in the accumulation of senescent cells. These senescent cells release pro-inflammatory chemicals (called SASP) which triggers an immune response. This response can damage nearby tissues over time. My goal this summer will be to characterize the pro-inflammatory agents released by senescent liver cells, as well as to see if the SASP is responsible for the accumulation of senescent cells in aging mammals.


Lilly AndersonLilly Anderson

On this project I will be doing data entry for the study examining whether the practice of mindfulness-based yoga can act as a stress reducer.  We will specifically be examining heart rate and cortisol levels both before and after 4 weeks of practicing mindful yoga with older adults.



Graduate LIFE Scholars

Katherine Anthony, M.A.Katherine Anthony

Katherine is working with Carolyn Mendez-Luck, MPH, PhD. and Ron Metoyer, PhD. on a project investigating perceived utility and usefulness of remote health monitoring among Mexican-origin and non-Hispanic white heart failure patients, their healthcare providers, and their informal caregivers. Katherine is a NSF IGERT in Healthy Aging Sciences Fellow and a third year doctoral student in Public Health.



Melissa McDougallMelissa McDougall

My summer LIFE Scholar project will investigate the role of vitamin E in maintaining lifetime brain health, using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model organism. This research will focus on elucidating the biochemical mechanism underlying the adverse, age-related neurological consequences of vitamin E deficiency. We will assess perturbations in membrane phospholipids within the brain due to chronic dietary vitamin E deficiency, and will assess whether these alterations are linked with behavioral outcomes including memory and learning impairment, as well as histopathological changes of the nervous system. This project will help characterize the molecular processes that contribute to the detrimental effects lifetime vitamin E deficiency has on the aging brain.