Triple Franklin major Stephan George (B.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; B.S. Genetics; B.S. Biology) is committed to making a difference for people with disabilities:
I am currently conducting a research project in the Wells laboratory at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. I am investigating the role that seven mutations in a gene called O-GlcNAc Transferase play in the development of intellectual disability. I also recently began a project studying the role of the sugar GlcNAc in satiety signaling via the leptin response pathway.
University highlights, achievements and awards:
When I entered Myers Hall a little over a year ago, I had no idea how amazing my time at UGA would be. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research, join amazing organizations that impact the regional community, and meet some amazing friends that have forever shaped the way I think. The University of Georgia has a unique ability to transform students’ lives by combining brilliant professors with a vibrant student body itching to reach out to the community.
Through UGA’s CURO program, I began working in a laboratory as soon as I arrived on campus under the tutelage of Dr. Lance Wells. I study mutations in an enzyme called O-GlcNAc Transferase — a sugar transferase implicated in processes from cancer progression to nervous system development — that have been linked to intellectual disability. I was able to continue working on this project all throughout last summer. Now, after only a year and a half of ceaseless efforts, we are preparing a paper for peer review on which I will be a second author!
I have also conducted research through UGA’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team. This team seeks to solve regional issues through the use of genetic engineering. Because Georgia produces approximately half of the United States’ peanut crops, our team decided to create a biological sensor that recognizes a toxin commonly found on peanuts. We presented our research at the iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston last November and received a bronze medal for our work!
I am also involved in UGA’s Science Olympiad Outreach organization, in which I have served as the treasurer and exam director. Through this initiative, we host the state’s second largest Science Olympiad invitational tournament each fall. This tournament consistently brings about 500 high school students to the university to compete in events encompassing all areas of science. It has been a great joy of mine to enable students to explore STEM fields through these tournaments, and I look forward to continuing to introduce students to science.
And we have no doubt he will, as George continues to learn with and impact his fellow students on campus. The Honors program does a great job of bringing young scholars to UGA, where for many and not just scientists, Franklin departments become their professional training ground. It all works together beautifully, and propels the university forward on the achievements of inspiring faculty and committed students like George.