Faculty mentors are available in all of the scientific disciplines at Fort Lewis College. Contact Dr. Les Sommerville, Program Director, for a listing.
Dr. Les Sommerville, Professor and Chair of Chemistry
B.S., 1980, Fort Lewis College, Colorado
Ph.D., 1985, University of Minnesota
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 1986-1988, University of Arizona
Faculty, 1988-1989, Bates College, Maine
Faculty, 1989-1991, St. Lawrence University, New York
Dr. Sommerville is the Director of the MARC U*STAR Program at Fort Lewis College. He has been mentor to two MARC trainees since 2010 and in 2013 was mentor to three pre-MARC students. The research projects in Dr. Sommerville’s lab are genome-directed studies done to understand glucose metabolism and enzymology in an organism, Acidobacterium capsulatum, which is prevalent in soil and aquatic environments around the globe. Students in Dr. Sommerville’s lab are currently working on NMR-based metabolic profiling with glucose as a sole carbon source, cloning key enzymes involved in glucose metabolism and developing cell lysis techniques to retrieve active enzymes from cell lysates. The long-term goal is to understand how these organisms acquire energy from the environment around them, regulate energy consumption and control glucose utilization for energy and biomass production.
Dr. David Blake, Professor of Biology
University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Microbiology and Biochemistry
University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Master of Science in Biochemistry
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Bachelor of Arts, Major in Biology, Minor in Music History
Dr. Blake started working with Serena Mancha fist as a Pre-MARC student and now as a MARC awardee. Their current research is on Herpes simplex virus type 3 (HSV3), commonly known as the Varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is a DNA virus within the Herpesviridae family. Infection with VZV in children results in chickenpox (varicella), and reactivation of the virus in the elderly or in immunocompromised adults leads to shingles (zoster). Due to the aging population in the United States, new compounds against VZV infection must be developed and tested for anti-viral efficacy. They hypothesize that sattabacin, a natural related compounds product recently synthesized by Dr. Kenny Miller in the Chemistry Department at FLC and other structurally related compounds will have anti-viral activity against VZV infection in human fibroblast cells. Dr. Blake and Serena are working to identify an appropriate SRE this coming summer (2013) combining veterinary and basic research.
Dr. Erin Lehmer, Professor of Biology
Ph.D., Zoology (Emphasis: Physiology/Ecology), Colorado State University, 2004
M.S., Zoology (Emphasis: Physiology/Ecology), Colorado State University, 2000
B.S., Biology, Fort Lewis College 1997
The objective of our research is to determine the role that immunocompetence plays in the susceptibility of wild mammals to simultaneous infection with multiple pathogens. As part of this research, we will determine 1) the extent to which maintaining a chronic infection with Sin Nombre virus (SNV) affects the immune system function of wild deer mice and 2) the extent to which immunocompetence influences the susceptibility of deer mice to co-infection with the bacterial pathogen, Bartonella. We are conducting a field and lab-based study in which we compare the innate, inflammatory and virus-specific immunity of SNV-infected deer mice to their uninfected counterparts. Likewise, the immunity of deer mice who are co-infected with both Bartonella and SNV are being compared to individuals who are either uninfected or infected with only 1 of these pathogens. Results of this research will provide much needed information regarding the regulation of both bacterial and viral disease in wild animals, ultimately improving our ability to predict patterns of zoonotic disease transmission among animals and from animals to humans.
Dr. Sharon Sears, Professor of Psychology
B.A., Smith College, Northampton, MA, 1996
- Major: Psychology; Minor: Exercise Science
- Honors: Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
Ph.D. in Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS, 2003
- APA Accredited Clinical Program with Specialty in Clinical Health Psychology
- Dissertation: The Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City: Benefit-finding, Positive Reappraisal Coping, and Posttraumatic Growth in Women with Early-Stage Breastn Cancer.
- Master's Thesis: Expectancy-Value Constructs and Expectancy Violation as Predictors of Exercise Adherence in Previously Sedentary Women. Defended August 2, 1999.
- Primary Advisor: Annette Stanton, Ph.D.
MARC trainee Kristina Bell and Dr. Sharon Sears (Psychology) have worked together over the past two years on Health Psychology research. Projects include 1) Co-authoring a chapter in a Health Psychology textbook, 2) Collaborating with Mercy Regional Medical Center to conduct a study to evaluate an integrative care program aimed at managing pain and anxiety in patients undergoing surgery, and 3) Kristina taking the lead on a study of the effect of guided imagery on student cortisol and anxiety related to test-taking. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Shere Byrd (Biology).
Dr. Sue Kraus, Professor of Psychology
Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Colorado, 1993
MA in Social Psychology from the University of Colorado, 1991
BS in Psychology from Penn State University, 1988
Dr. Kraus has developed a new line of research centering on historic trauma in Native American populations. This is a new area of research for Dr. Kraus, and all of the work has been done as a team with her MARC Awardee, Noel Altaha. During the academic year of 2011-2012, they conducted an in-depth look at the existing literature and design and implemented a preliminary study of historic trauma for current Native American students at FLC. The effects of historical truama in Native Americans have been researched previously, but only within older generations. They have found clear evidence that past generations of Native Americans suffer significant effects from their history of trauma stemming from the loss of land and culture. This study examined the effects of historical trauma in current Native American college students. Seventy Native American students from 28 tribes (56% identified Navajo as their primary tribal affliation) were surveyed on psychological measures including depression, anziety, resilience, coping abilities, compassion towards oneself and towards others, and historical trauma. Noel and Dr. Kraus found that the current generation of Native American college students continues to experience similar levels of historical trauma as older generations. Native American students who experience historical loss have higher levels of depression, anxiety, negative feelings towards oneself and lower levels of resilience. They found that historical trauma was not correlated with blood quantum, gender, SES or drug and alcohol use. These findings suggest a need for more research on the effects and potential treatment to increase resilience and reduce the impact of historical trauma.