By Myara Gomez
The Chi Upsilon Chapter of Beta Beta Beta, or Tri-Beta, the Biological Honor Society, had an induction ceremony on April 8. During the ceremony, 32 students received regular memberships, 14 students received an associate membership and 30 received honor cords.
Dr. Leann Thornton, faculty co-advisor and biology professor, opened up the ceremony with a warm welcome to the inductees, as well as family and friends that came to support. The president of Beta Beta Beta also shared a few words.
“Beta Beta Beta was organized as an honor society in the biological sciences to recognize the interest and achievement of students in biology,” said junior biology major Emilie Allison. “The three major objectives of the society are to promote scholarship in the biological sciences, to promote dissemination of biological knowledge and to encourage research.”
The new officers for 2022-2023 were announced — President Emilie Allison, Vice President Anika Pruthi, Secretary Shreya Ranadive, Treasurer Hannah Weber and Historians Scott Cogan and Chiara Silvestro.
The chairs of Beta Beta Beta are elected by the e-board after applications were sent in over the summer. Some of the many chair members are Nishi Patel, Nataline Elmasri, Hannah Weber, Sean Leonard, Ishika Sheladia and Claira Cunningham.
Patel and Elmasri were the peer-mentoring chairs this year, and their job is to welcome freshmen and give them a mentor. Weber and Leonard were the showcase chairs, and their job was to organize a research spotlight to provide an overview of the research lab at the College. Sheladia was the publicity webmaster chair, and she promoted events on social media and on the Tri-Beta website. Cunningham was the fundraising chair — she organized their fall sweatshirt sale and spring t-shirt sale to raise funds for the Biology department.
The keynote speaker Dr. Bridgett VonHoldt, an associate professor at Princeton University, spoke about her research over the behavior in dogs. She works in Yellowstone and studies wild canines.
“I always look at this domestic animal and I’m constantly amazed at how we transitioned this wolf-like creature into an animal that sleeps in our bed, sometimes fits into a teacup or in a purse,” said Dr. VonHoldt. “What actually happened along the way?”
She talked about the fossils of dogs to see where they were originally domesticated from and when.
“If two branches share an emerging point, they share a common ancestor and as you look towards the tip of the tree that can give us some indication about the dog breed that we have sequenced,” said VonHoldt.
She went on to speak about a mutation that is found in certain genes — a rare mutation also known as “williams beuren syndrome.”
According to clevelandclinic.org, “Williams syndrome is a rare genetic condition characterized by unique physical features, delays in cognitive development and potential cardiovascular problems.” Dr. VonHoldt continued to speak about her research and how dogs and wolves could differ from each other based on their genes. Dr. VonHoldt went on to say that the dogs we all know and love could have williams beuren syndrome and that’s why they are so friendly and look different than wolves.
“The ceremony was organized and planned well, especially after two years of holding the ceremony on zoom,” Patel said. “The keynote lecture was interesting and fun. Dr. VonHoldt presented her research beautifully and I hope she continues her research on behavior in dogs.”