News Details

March 20, 2017

Wesleyan Announces Ledford Scholarship Recipient

West Virginia Wesleyan College student Kathryn Robinson of Renick, WV has been awarded the Colonel Lee B. Ledford Scholarship, a scholarship program established by the Appalachian College Association (ACA) in 1999 to honor Col. Lee B. Ledford. 

The Ledford Scholars support many forms of research, including laboratory/field work, interviews, analyzing special collections, and participant observation, for students enrolled at ACA institutions.  Students in a variety of disciplines have been supported in the past, such as English, sociology, history, biology, computer science, and religious studies.

Robinson, a junior biochemistry major, plans to use the scholarship to continue a project to make a genetic map of community-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by testing it against C. nigrescens, a knapweed that has antimicrobial properties. Previously, a basic screen was ran to find out which genes and proteins made the MRSA more susceptible to the knapweed. The grant will be used to run a rescreen, hitting some of the best matches to unify the data, and running a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which will show us which genes are or are not being expressed in the presence of the C. nigrescens. The idea is that these maps of the genome will reveal which genes and which proteins make MRSA resistant to methicillin antibiotics. The function of this type of research is to find specific proteins to target with very localized drugs that will decrease MRSA's antibiotic resistance. 

Homeschooled through high school, Robinson won the West Virginia Scholar in 2013, receiving a full-tuition, room and board scholarship to Wesleyan. She is a member of the women’s soccer team, a member of the Chemistry and Pre-med societies, and a tutor for the Chemistry department. She worked on the research project last summer at Wesleyan under the supervision of mentor Dr. Luke Huggins, associate professor of biology, through the WV-INBRE program. She plans to study abroad in Israel this summer through the Maxine Bruhns Scholarship and to apply for medical school in her senior year.

“I am incredibly grateful and honored to be awarded the Ledford Scholarship,” Robinson said. “It is an opportunity to complete a research project that the West Virginia Wesleyan biology department has been working on for several years and to partner with other universities to gain opportunities and access to technology not available at Wesleyan. This project is an opportunity to pursue medically-pertinent genetics and microbiology research and develop skills in protocol design, valuable lab techniques, and research presentation. This has only been made possible through the Colonel Lee B. Ledford Scholarship, and I am very excited to see what will be achieved through this award and research.” 

Ledford, a native of Harlan County, KY, established an endowment before his death to provide central Appalachian students, particularly students from Harlan and surrounding counties, with research and learning experiences outside the classroom. 

The Appalachian College Association is an organization of 36 independent liberal arts colleges that provides expanded and enhanced learning opportunities to faculty and students for the purpose of service the educational and economic well-being of the people and communities of Central Appalachia.  This educational consortium offers a wide variety of academic, research, scholarship, library, and travel programs, serving more than 54,000 students and 4,000 faculty in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.  The Appalachian College Association is an independent 501 (c) (3) incorporated organization, governed by a board comprised of member college presidents and an executive committee.



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