Junior Kaleigh Tockes received ASM undergraduate research fellowship

Kaleigh Tockes

September 17, 2012

By Clarrissa McWoodson ’14

Junior Biology Kaleigh Tockes received a prestigious research fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology allowing the biology major to work on two research projects at Bradley this summer.

Tockes spent 10 weeks in the laboratory of Dr. Keith Johnson, Associate Professor of Biology, where she worked on one project that focused on uncovering a new antibiotic resistance gene and another computer-based project that examined the distribution of repeat sequence in different bacterial strain.

Tockes’ research will continue through the 2012-13 academic year and she will present her findings at the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Denver next summer.

“I am nervous yet excited for the meeting in Denver. It can be scary presenting a research project in front of those who have Ph.D.s and far more experience than I do,” Tockes said. But, she added, the fellowship allowed her to make valuable progress on her lab work.

“If it had not been for this fellowship, I would be further behind in my research. This fellowship allowed me to have a lot of freedom to work,” she said.

The American Society for Microbiology is the oldest and largest life science organization in the world and its undergraduate research fellowships are highly competitive. On average, about 40 are given out in the entire nation. The ASM awards the fellowship based on a student’s application, academic record and research proposal.

Tockes’ fellowship paid a $4,000 stipend as well as up to $500 for her travel expenses to the meeting in Denver.

Biology professor Dr. Johnson said he was glad to have the opportunity to work together with Tockes. He said more than 75 percent of Bradley’s biology undergraduate majors spend at least one semester involved in faculty-directed research projects. This experience provides students with an opportunity not only to investigate new research directions but also to put into practice what they learn in the classroom.

“Awards, such as the ASM Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, allow students to focus on research throughout the summer and get paid for their experiences. The Department of Biology, through external funding, has provided similar opportunities for undergraduate students through larger University grants,” he added.