COSAM News Articles 2018 September High School Student Conducts Research in COSAM’s Biology Lab

High School Student Conducts Research in COSAM’s Biology Lab

Published: 09/25/2018

By: Maria Gebhardt

Leslie Dees spends his days attending Auburn High School and after school ends, he conducts detailed research in Dr. Haruka Wada’s laboratory at Auburn University. Dr. Wada is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences within the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM).

“Being part of Dr. Wada’s lab allows me to explore my interest in science through both technical and academic aspects of research,” explains this outstanding high school senior.

Dees has always had an interest in science and began this research project when he was just a junior in high school. He shares that this work will help him learn more about science, which he has always had a passion for ever since he was very young.

“Leslie took the initiative to find and read primary literature, asks critical questions, and we really worked together to optimize the method and analyze data to advance the research,” explains Dr. Wada.

Dr. Wada’s lab examines the positive effect of stress.  In particular, her lab investigates how an exposure to stress early in life make animals more stress tolerant later in life. The study Dees is leading examines if the temperature female birds experience during development and before breeding has a direct impact on the physical characteristics of eggs laid. Dees analyzes the number of pores and thickness of eggshells of zebra finches and tests whether females who experience heat lay eggs that would survive better in heat.

“I have been continuously impressed by the quality of work and motivation Leslie has shown us. It is great to see all of his hard work come together,” Dr. Wada adds.

This research is one of the outreach components of a $1 million NSF CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation to investigate a link among stress responses in organisms and cells.

Dees will be presenting his research at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual conference in January 2019 in Tampa, Florida.


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