Three Biology Students Presented at International Conference

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – May 30, 2012 – Three Coker College biology students, the only undergraduates in attendance, presented research at  the 11th European Conference of Fungal Genetics held last month at the Philipps-Universität/Max Planck Institute of Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany.

More than 650 participants from 38 countries attended the conference, which included plenary lectures and poster sessions about new developments in fungal genetics.

Coker’s Megan Sexton, a rising senior, Sara Atkinson, a rising junior, and Rebecca Armentrout, who graduated this month, presented their research project entitled, “Interrogating the transcriptomes of developmental mutants to identify conidiation-specific genes in Fusarium graminearum,” during a poster session of the conference. They were accompanied by their research advisor, Coker College Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Undergraduate Research Joseph Flaherty.

“Coker’s students were able to enjoy not only the scientifically exciting and thought-provoking aspects of the meeting,” said Flaherty, “but also the charm of the medieval city of Marburg.”

In addition to the lectures, participants had opportunities to meet and discuss their research with each other during coffee and cake breaks. Guided tours were also available to participants interested in exploring the historic town. The conference concluded with a dinner at the Marburg Castle.

“This was an amazing experience that allowed us to not only present our poster,” remarked Sexton, “but learn more about research, presenting and meeting scientists that are well-established in the field.”

In their ongoing research, Sexton, Atkinson and Armentrout have, so far, identified three gene clusters that may be involved in the asexual reproductive process of a microscopic fungus, F. graminearum.



Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.


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