Journal of Undergraduate Research


gene x, rhesus macaques, Orchid-Dandelion Hypothesis


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Aston, S. Andrew Gene x Environment Interactions in Rhesus Macaques: A test of the Orchid-­‐Dandelion Hypothesis Faculty Mentor: J. Dee Higley, Department of Psychology Numerous studies have shown that certain gene variants produce distinct phenotypes based on the environment in which an individual develops. Many of these so called gene-­‐by-­‐environment (GxE) interactions lead to an increased risk of developing psychopathology. The Orchid-­‐ Dandelion Hypothesis posits that risk alleles have been conserved to the present day, suggesting that although risk alleles may prove deleterious in many environments, under the right conditions, such variants may bestow an evolutionary advantage. For my ORCA grant, I proposed to mentor students currently investigating the effects of such GxE interactions in Dr. J. Dee Higley’s lab. Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to gain valuable experience mentoring students by developing a standardized schedule and curriculum to help students learn about the research process in future semesters, teaching undergraduates how to conduct scientific research, as well as continuing my own research in neurogenetics.

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