Dr. Michael Sehorn

Genetics and Biochemistry
College of Science

Area of Research:
DNA repair and homologous recombination

Life Science Building 057A
Dr. Michael Sehorn

Proposed role for the Scholar as an undergraduate researcher in the Mentor's lab.
Over the years, the Mentor has developed a system to recruit interested incoming Freshman and Sophomores and train them in biochemistry and molecular biology. Current and previous undergraduates have made significant contributions to the research in the mentor’s lab. In recent years, the Mentor recruits incoming freshman and sophomore students to join and continue until graduation. At any given moment in the laboratory, there are Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior undergraduate Scholars. Each Senior Scholar is given responsibility to help train the more junior Scholars. Each Scholar is assigned to a graduate student. The graduate student serves to advise and help train the Scholar to enable them to achieve their research goal. In addition, the Mentor is in the lab daily and interacts with each Scholar to help troubleshoot challenges. The Mentor devotes significant amounts of time working with the Scholar to design experiments, demonstrate how to execute the experiments and providing feedback to the Scholars on the results of their experiments immediately to avoid unproductivity and reduce the Scholar’s frustration if there is a complication in the experiment. This feedback is invaluable to the Scholar as it helps to generate excitement and build confidence in their abilities in the lab. Through this process the students begin to develop critical thinking skills that allows them to think about appropriate controls to be used. As their results are folded into a manuscript, the Scholars are asked to write up the methods and results of their experiments. The Mentor devotes time to provide edits and revisions to help the Scholar learn how to write scientifically. The Scholar will participate in weekly group meetings, presentations, Symposiums, and most importantly, contribute to authorship of manuscripts that involve their work. As evidence that this system works, all of the students trained in the Mentor’s lab have gone on to graduate school (University of California Berkeley, Yale University, etc.), medical school (Harvard University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Baylor College of Medicine, etc.), or other post-graduate education institutions (The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia School of Law, etc.). Furthermore, 10 of these students have contributed significantly and earned authorship on peer-reviewed published research. Outside of the lab, the Mentor provides the student with advice about success both in and out of the classroom. This often leads to a discussion about future aspirations and what is required of the Scholar to attain their goals. The mentorship provided to the Scholar will continue after the Scholar has graduated and left the lab.

Frequency and nature of the planned interactions between the Scholar and Mentor.
As noted above, the Mentor is in the lab daily and interacts with each Scholar. The Scholar is asked to explain what they are working on, showing the Mentor results from their experiments and to ask questions about the results from their experiment. An additional opportunity for interaction is at the weekly group meeting. During these meetings, the Scholar is introduced to other research projects and through the lab journal club, the research of other labs. Both of these mechanisms introduce the Scholar to reading of primary literature and gaining a deeper understanding of the particular techniques used in the laboratory. The Scholar will take part in trouble shooting sessions during group meeting. The Scholar is encouraged at all times to ask questions. All the Scholars and graduate students use texting, the GroupMe App and email to facilitate communication with each other and with the Mentor.

Specific plans the Mentor will employ.
The Mentor’s Scholar development plan not only includes experience at the bench conducting experiments, as described above, but also includes both written and oral communication of the Scholar’s research. The weekly group meetings provide the Scholar with an opportunity to present challenges on their project, to present journal club (done on a rotation basis) and to present a Powerpoint presentation on their research project. At the end of each semester, the Scholar writes a summary of their accomplishments for the semester. When the Scholar’s projects produce data for publication, the Scholar will contribute to authorship of the manuscript. All Scholars are asked to review any manuscript that is prepared in the lab regardless of whether it is on their project. The Scholar will present research posters at regional and national scientific meetings. The Mentor spends time with the Scholar to provide insight and advice about what is needed to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. There is a discussion to encourage an appropriate level of extracurricular activities with an emphasis on leadership roles that the Scholar should consider pursuing. I regularly bring in past students that are now in graduate school, medical school and other post graduate schools to provide a different perspective for the student. I now have alumni from my lab that now hold faculty positions and are practicing medical doctors. To provide a full spectrum on the path to securing a job with a Ph.D. or M.D., I plan to bring these alumni back to Clemson University so that the students have an opportunity to see the complete progression from undergraduate (my current junior and senior undergraduate students), to graduate education (current graduate students and medical students) to professionals (Ph.D.s in industry and academia and practicing physicians).

Active undergraduate researchers in Mentor's lab. 8

Total number of UGRS mentored to date: 50

DNA double-strand breaks can result from exposure to endogenous sources such as free radicals and collapsed replication forks or through exposure to exogenous sources such as ionizing radiation. Efficient repair of these breaks is important to maintain genome stability. Homologous recombination (HR) is one of two major pathways that repairs DNA double-strand breaks. Homologous recombination is a major pathway that utilizes a template to mend DNA double-stranded breaks. This pathway contains numerous proteins including the RAD51 and DMC1 recombinases. My laboratory strives to understand the mechanism of homology-directed repair of DNA double-strand breaks mediated by RAD51 and DMC1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Entamoeba histolytica, and humans.