Davis & Elkins College student Casey King now has a deeper understanding of how chronic stress during puberty can result in long-term negative effects on the brain. The senior biology major participated in a research internship and recently presented data to the campus community.

King was among 28 students selected to take part in an eight-week West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) at West Virginia University. For the study, she worked under the mentorship of Dr. Kathleen Morrison, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the WVU School of Medicine.

“My well-rounded, liberal arts education at D&E prepared me to think critically, communicate effectively, and collaborate with scientists in a professional research setting,” King said. “The mentorship of Dr. (Shawn) Stover and Dr. (Michelle) Mabry inspired me to work hard and further my studies with WV-INBRE.”

The project, titled “The Impact of Pubertal Stress on Histone Acetylation in the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus,” took into account how stress during puberty could increase risk for neuropsychiatric disease later in life and examined how hormonal flux during pregnancy is associated with affective disturbances. The study involved inducing fairly mild stressors on pregnant mice.

“The internship gave me the opportunity to learn from highly trained experts in the field, enhance laboratory skills, gain competency in communicating scientific data and more,” King said. “My experience in Dr. Morrison’s lab will prepare me for higher-level thinking and problem-solving in future clinical settings as a physician, especially in women’s mental health.”

King is the daughter of Alove and Diane Edralin of Wrightstown, New Jersey, and the granddaughter of Loreta King of Williamson. After graduating from D&E, she hopes to attend medical school.

Funding for WV-INBRE is provided by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The Davis & Elkins College biology program is designed to develop an understanding of the process of scientific inquiry as well as an appreciation of the unity and diversity of life. To serve the needs of students with differing career interests, two degree options are offered. The Bachelor of Science in biology major is intended for preparing for professional or graduate schools, or employment in more technical careers in biology. The Bachelor of Arts in biology and environmental science major is for those who want expertise in biological and environmental issues for less technical careers.

Casey King Internship

Davis & Elkins College senior Casey King presents findings for “The Impact of Pubertal Stress on Histone Acetylation in the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus.” As part of her internship, King worked with a team of researchers at WVU for the project.