Faces of GIAR: Anne Elizabeth Thaxton

April 11, 2024


Grant: $1,000 in Spring 2022

Education level at the time of the grant: Undergraduate student

Project Description: 
We used three scorpion species, Diplocentrus lindo, Vaejovis intermedius, and Centruroides vittatus, to observe if there is niche partitioning among the species through observation of differing gene transcription. To study this, we collected venom glands from each species and extracted the mRNA from the samples. We then prepared cDNA libraries to test for differential expression. We found differences in gene expression, likely leading to the translation of different proteins in the venom of each species. This may limit competition against one another for the same resources within their environment. Our study is the first to generate transcriptomes for two of these species, and it increases our understanding of interspecific venom variation. 

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher?
The grant application process gave me confidence as a researcher. As an undergraduate student, it can be very intimidating to initiate and present a research project. Applying for the GIAR award allowed me to distill and clarify my project goals, and it helped me refine my skills in sharing the research I had embarked upon.

What advice would you give to future applicants?
I would advise future applicants to apply, even if you do not feel as though you are ready to take on the challenge. Regardless of the outcome, you will grow in your own understanding of your project as you condense your knowledge, data, and goals into a cohesive proposal. 

Where are you now?

After defending my honors thesis in April 2024, I will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in related sciences. I will then attend the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine starting in July 2024.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety