WWU Student Wins Award for Undergraduate Research

Kathryn Golden receives awardWilliam Woods University student Kathryn Golden recently won an award for a presentation on her undergraduate tick research. She made the presentation at a meeting of the Missouri branch of the American Society for Microbiology March 28 in Columbia, Mo.


Golden, a senior biology major from Crystal Lake, Ill., received a certificate and $100.


“Presenting our research at the branch meeting of the American Society for Microbiology was such an honor,” Golden said.  “It was a wonderful learning experience because I had to be able to explain exactly what we had been doing, and be prepared to answer questions. . .it was really taking learning to the next level. The realization that I can not only perform the work, but that I have the ability to tactically convey my findings to others was a huge confidence booster.” 


Golden’s presentation was on the Cox Scholar research that she has been doing this year with Dr. Mary Spratt, Cox Distinguished Professor of Science. The research is titled “Erhlichia and Rickettsieae Agents of Disease from Missouri Ticks Amplified by Real-Time PCR.” 


Spratt explained that the research is a continuation of her longtime study of ticks.


“This year we were looking at the prevalence of bacteria in ticks from southeast Missouri that cause either ehrlichiosis or a rickettsial disease, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” Spratt said.  “Both diseases have become very common in Missouri, and are very serious.  We are finding a very high percentage of infected ticks.” 


According to Spratt, having her student win the award “was especially gratifying because all the other entrants were from large universities with state funding and wonderful facilities:  the University of Missouri-Columbia, Truman State University, Missouri State University and Southeast Missouri State University, as well as the St. Louis University School of Medicine. We were the only small, private school represented.”


“It was an amazing experience, and something that I could never, and would never, have done had it not been for Dr. Spratt’s amazing counseling and guidance,” Golden said.  “She truly made all the difference, and I am forever indebted to her for all that she has taught me in and out of the classroom.” 


Golden also has been working on another research project through WWU’s Mentor-Mentee program pairing faculty and students. She and Dr. Joseph Kyger, WWU assistant professor of chemistry, are studying the absorption of calcium in babies born before full term. Their research will help medical professionals decide what calcium supplements are most beneficial to premature infants, ultimately helping to save their lives.


Setting her sights on becoming a veterinarian, Golden has been accepted to vet school at the University of Illinois and plans to start there in August.



CUTLINE: Kathryn Golden receives her award from Jack Steiert, president of the Missouri Branch of the American Society for Microbiology.