Two Biology Students Participated in National Conference

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – April 20, 2011 – Two Coker College students, Amanda Warner and Kendra English, both seniors majoring in biology, and their faculty mentor Associate Professor of Biology Joe Flaherty, participated in the 26th Fungal Genetics Conference held this year in Asilomar, Calif.

Warner, Walterboro, S.C., was selected to present a poster about her honors project, titled “Characterization of novel conidiation-impaired mutants in Fusarium graminearum,” which is the causal agent of head blight of wheat and several other economically important diseases.

“Attending the conference was a great opportunity for me,” said Warner.  “I was able to see many different projects being completed by students, primarily graduate students, from all over the world. But beyond that, I was honored to be able to share my own research with students and professors who truly appreciate fungal genetics.”

Following graduation, Warner will continue her research as a graduate student in the laboratory of Ahmad Fakhoury of the Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural systems at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.

English, Manning, S.C., whose research project centers on genes involved in salt tolerance in fungi, praised the conference experience for a number of things, not least of which was the chance it afforded her to meet Purdue University Professor Jin Rong Xu, a world-renowned expert in fungal genetics and key scientific collaborator to Flaherty.

“It’s one thing to read recently published discoveries,” English said.  “It’s another to be able to meet the scientists involved.  The conference was both exciting and inspiring.” 

English will attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill following graduation.

Flaherty, who chairs Coker’s Department of Science and Mathematics, sees independent laboratory research at the undergraduate level as essential for future scientists, medical doctors and science teachers. 

“The research program that I’ve developed at Coker focuses on gene discovery in fungi, with particular emphasis on elucidation of regulatory networks controlling development,” said Flaherty. “It is synergistic with both Jin-Rong Xu’s and Larry Dunkle’s respective programs at Purdue University and Burton Bluhm’s program at the University of Arkansas and provides excellent opportunities for Coker students to participate in university-level research projects.”

Both students’ projects were funded by NSF-Career Award 0845324, a highly competitive award that Flaherty received in 2009.

The Fungal Genetics Conference is sponsored annually by the Genetics Society of America, a professional organization of more than 4,000 members.

For more information about Coker’s programs in science and mathematics, please contact Flaherty at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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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