Undergraduate Student research

 
 

Extensive research opportunities are available for undergraduate students in the Hillyer Lab.  In the past 6 years, 15 undergraduate students have performed original research in the Hillyer Lab in projects that range from the mechanics of heart contractions to the genetic bases of immunity in the mosquito hemocoel.


Usually, undergraduate students perform research under Biological Sciences courses BSCI280, BSCI283, BSCI286 and BSCI296 (see “teaching” webpage), with the general expectation that by the end of their undergraduate career students should have obtained sufficient data to graduate with Honors and publish a research paper.


More information on the research done in the Hillyer lab can be found on our “research” and “publications” webpages.  If you are interested in joining the Hillyer Lab contact me by EMAIL.  Underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.



Peer-reviewed publications authored by undergraduate students (names are underlined):


  1. 1) Glenn, J.D., J.G. King, and J.F. Hillyer. 2010. Structural mechanics of the mosquito heart and its function in bidirectional hemolymph transport. Journal of Experimental Biology. 213(4):541-50. (PubMed) (Download FREE)


  1. 2) Andereck, J.W., J.G. King, and J.F. Hillyer. 2010. Contraction of the ventral abdomen potentiates extracardiac retrograde hemolymph propulsion in the mosquito hemocoel. PLoS ONE. 5(9):e12943. (PubMed) (Download FREE)


  1. 3) Coggins, S.A., T.Y. Estévez-Lao, and J.F. Hillyer. 2012. Increased survivorship following bacterial infection by the mosquito Aedes aegypti as compared to Anopheles gambiae correlates with increased transcriptional induction of antimicrobial peptides. Developmental and Comparative Immunology. 37(3-4):390-401.

    (Pubmed) (Download from Dev Comp Immunol)


  1. 4) Estévez-Lao, T.Y, D.S. Boyce, H.-W. Honegger, and J.F. Hillyer. 2013. Cardioacceleratory function of the neurohormone CCAP in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Journal of Experimental Biology. 216(4):601-613.  (PubMed) (Article on JEB website) (Story in Inside JEB).


  1. 5)Chen, W., and J.F. Hillyer.  2013. FlyNap (triethylamine) increases the heart rate of mosquitoes and eliminates the cardioacceleratory effect of the neuropeptide CCAP.  PLoS ONE. 8(7):e70414.

    (Article on the PLOS ONE Website)



Awards and honors received by undergraduate students:


  1. 1)Vanderbilt University Founder’s Medal:

    a.  Sarah Coggins, 2011. (LINK)

  1. 2)Harvard University Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Fellowship:

    a.  Justin Glenn, 2008.

  1. 3)Award recipients for “Best Presentation” in the entomology session of the Middle Collegiate Meeting of the Tennessee Academy of Science:

    a.  Justin Glenn, 1st place, 2009.

    b.  Sarah Coggins, 1st place, 2011. (LINK)

    c.  Weihan “Jack” Chen, 2nd place, 2011. (LINK)

  1. 4)Graduating with Biological Sciences “Honors”:

  2. a. Justin Glenn, 2009.

  3. b.Sarah Coggins, 2011 (Highest Honors).

  4. c.Weihan Chen, 2013 (Highest Honors).

  5. d.Dacia Boyce, 2013.

  6. 5)Vanderbilt University Department of Biological Sciences Research Commendation:

    a.  Justin Glenn, 2009.

    b.  Jonathan Andereck, 2010.

  1. 6)Vanderbilt University Summer Research Program Fellowship:

    a.  Jonathan Andereck, 2009.

    b.  Sarah Coggins, 2010.

  1. 7)Vanderbilt University Joel Tellinghuisen Phi Beta Kappa Award for outstanding research:

    a.  Jonathan Andereck, 2010.

  1. 8)Vanderbilt University Merck Index Award (Chemistry):

    a.  Jonathan Andereck, 2010.

  1. 9) American Society of Parasitologists Marc Dresden Student Travel Grant (funds travel to the national meeting):

    a.  Sarah Coggins, 2010. (LINK)

  1. 10) Speaker at an international scientific meeting:

  2. a. Sarah Coggins, 2010, 85th annual meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists, Colorado Springs, CO.  (LINK)

  3. b.Weihan Chen, 2012, Entomology 2012: the 60th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, Knoxville, TN. (LINK)

  4. 11) Vanderbilt University’s Department of Biological Sciences Research Prize:

    a.  Sarah Coggins, 2011. (LINK)

  1. 12)National Science Foundation REU fellow:

    a.  Jack “Weihan” Chen, 2011. (LINK)

    b.  Sushma Boppana, 2012. (LINK)

    c.  Haley Ellison, 2013. (LINK)


Life after Vanderbilt:


1) Justin Glenn, 2009: Johns Hopkins Graduate School.

2) Rachel Fogg, 2009: Cornell Veterinary School.

3) Jonathan Andereck, 2010: Vanderbilt Medical School.

  1. 4)Chance Panter, 2010: U.S. Army.

  2. 5)Sarah Coggins, 2011: Vanderbilt Medical School.

  3. 6)Imade Imasuen, 2012: Emory's Post-Baccalaureate Program (PREP).

  4. 7)Weihan “Jack” Chen, 2013: U. of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

  5. 8)Dacia Boyce, 2013: Uniformed Services Univ. of the Health Sciences

Research opportunities for undergraduates

Justin Glenn (top left) obtained a B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2009, with Honors.  His research on the structural and functional mechanics of the mosquito heart was published in Journal of Experimental Biology.

Sarah Coggins (above) obtained B.A.s in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Spanish in 2011. During graduation ceremonies, she was awarded the Department of Biological Sciences Research Prize, and earned the prestigious Founder’s Medal.  Her research on the immune response of culicine and anopheline mosquitoes to bacterial infection was published in Developmental and Comparative Immunology.

Jonathan Andereck (above)obtained a B.A. in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2010.  His research on the role of abdominal contractions on hemolymph propulsion was published in the journal PLoS ONE, and netted him Vanderbilt’s 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Tellinghuisen Award for Research.