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National Science & Math Honor Society Convention hosted by Evangel University, March 1-3

Published on Feb 28, 2018 by Evangel University News

Nearly 150 students and faculty from across the U.S. will be in Springfield this weekend for the  2018 National Convention of Sigma Zeta, the National Science & Mathematics Honor Society.

The event will be held on the campus of Evangel University, March 1-3, 2018.

The goal of Sigma Zeta is to encourage scholarly activity and recognize academic scholarship in the natural and computer sciences and in mathematics.

The Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at Evangel is hosting the conference, which will be held in the AG Theological Seminary building, on the corner of Glenstone and Division. Lectures will be in the chapel, and poster presentations will be in the Great Hall lobby.

2017 Trey Shupp, Beta Eta-200dpi
Junior biological chemistry major Trey Shupp presented this research at a previous event. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The Sigma Zeta Convention provides an opportunity for local chapters to gather together to share with and learn from other local chapters as well as the national leaders. There will be opportunities for research presentations, awards, field trips and committee meetings.

Ten EU students are among those presenting their research this week, according to Dr. Natasha DeVore, associate professor of chemistry.

“Having the convention at Evangel is an honor, and it gives more of our students the opportunity to attend,” said DeVore, a 2006 graduate of Evangel. She earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences from The University of Kansas in 2011.

Students in Evangel’s chapter, Beta Eta, are active in conducting research and doing community service activities related to science, said Rachel Baines, student president of Beta Eta. “This chapter has been present at Evangel for many years but this year we have been the most active.”

Evangel research projects include work with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University

A total of ten students from the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at Evangel University will present their research at the 2018 National Convention of Sigma Zeta.

The most successful work had X-ray diffraction data collected remotely at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University, and is now being prepared for publication.

2018 SucB moleculeA global structure
A rough draft 3-D image of the SucB protein structure, created by Dr. Natasha DeVore. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Rachel Baines and Trey Shupp are giving an oral presentation of the crystal structure of a bacterial protein, SucB, that they solved using X-ray crystallography.

“Trey and I have worked really hard on our research over the years,” said Baines, a senior from Reading, Pa. “When we first started on this project three years ago, we had an ambitious goal to isolate and grow a bunch of this protein. We inserted it’s gene into bacteria and grew a bunch of it. This technique, called ‘expression,’ tricks E. coli to make a ton of the protein we wanted, HAT. In the process of doing this, the E. coli also produced a bunch of its own protein, SucB, which is what we ended up purifying.

“So we extracted this protein from the E. coli through various methods and then tried to crystalize it. We were able to grow big enough crystals in our lab to send off to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for X-ray data collection.

“Our crystal data was a higher resolution than previous published structures, so our next steps are to refine our structure and submit it for publication,” concluded Baines.

In addition, three more projects from Evangel students are being presented at the convention.

  • Charissa Lord, Sydney Barron, Melissa Gadd, and Noah Holmes are presenting a poster on their research on a human protease protein that is involved in influenza infection. They are working to obtain a crystal structure of this protein (TMPRSS2).
  • Karina Cuate and Heather Culbertson are presenting a poster on the cloning of a human protease that is involved in influenza infection (a catalytic domain only version of human airway trypsin-like protease, HAT).
  • Jessica Agama and Hannah Sproull are presenting a poster on the cloning and expression of an enzyme found in the brain with uncertain functions (cytochrome P450 4X1).

For more information on the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at Evangel University, call (417) 865-2811 ext. 8313, or visit


WRITTEN BY: Mallory Johnson and PKL