Undergrad research grant fosters young scientist’s passion

Kaylyn Bauer, UMSL junior majoring in biochemistry and biotechnology

Kaylyn Bauer, a UMSL junior majoring in biochemistry and biotechnology, spent the summer interning at the Danforth Plant Science Center. (Photo by August Jennewein)

When Kaylyn Bauer was a freshman in high school, her biology teacher, Jennifer Mallery, said she saw a potential scientist in her. The teacher’s instincts proved true, even if the scientist was only 14 years old.

Today, Bauer is a junior biochemistry and biotechnology major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Her growing passion for science was fostered this summer with an internship at the world-renowned Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, Mo.

“I worked as a lab assistant there this year in Dr. Jim Carrington’s lab,” Bauer said. “When I was told I received the internship we decided I could do the research in the same lab I had been working as a lab assistant. The lab focuses on a family of proteins in a plant, Arabidopsis thaliana to be exact. We’re looking to see how the many RNA silencing pathways of the plant deal with viruses and affect development.”

She seems very comfortable in her science-geek skin and willing to teach those who aren’t.

Bauer is one of nine students to receive a $1,000 research grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to continue her work in Assistant Professor Mindy Steiniger’s lab. There, Bauer is working on another RNA project looking for the location and possible interaction of Symplekin and DCR-2 through immunofluorescence in Drosophilia melanogaster.

In laymen’s terms she is looking for two specific proteins in fruit flies by lighting up their proteins via antibodies. The grant will go toward lab supplies and fees for the confocal microscope, which she terms, ”very cool.” She said they are getting good results on their work so it will continue into next year.

Bauer came to UMSL by way of Holt High School in Wentzville, Mo. Other science teachers also saw her potential and encouraged Bauer to attend Students and Teachers as Research Scientists, UMSL’s summer program for talented junior and senior high school students. By then she was hooked on science and the following year was among a small group of high school students in the region recognized by UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences with Distinguished Achievement Award for Science Excellence.

When it was time to choose a college, Bauer said she had many reasons to choose UMSL.

“I chose UMSL because I felt that it offered an environment where I could really connect with my teachers and get a genuine education,” she said. “I also liked the research opportunities available. The scholarship that I received also had mentoring components and a support system that I wanted since I am a first generation college student.”

Bauer was accepted into the Opportunity Scholars Program, that includes an all-inclusive four-year scholarship at UMSL and opportunities to develop career experience. She is also enrolled in the Pierre Laclede Honors College and lives on campus.

The budding scientist is already looking at graduate school programs. She hopes to pursue a career in private industry or teach at the university level where she can pursue her research interests.

The UMSL Experience


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