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Terri Williams
Photo by John Atashian

Research into the process of segmentation during the embryonic development of arthropods by Trinity College Research Associate Professor Terri Williams, working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Arizona, was published in April in the online journal Nature Communications.

Arthropods are a large and diverse group of animals whose bodies consist mainly of repeated segments. With her students at Trinity, Williams explores the embryonic development of segments to better understand how development is modified during the course of evolution in the natural world. Williams said that the collaborative research team found results that point to a very dynamic model of cell behavior during beetle embryogenesis.

Joining Williams as Trinity co-authors of “Changing cell behaviors during beetle embryogenesis correlates with slowing of segmentation” were William Blaine ’15, Austin Tewksbury ’13, and Savvas Constantinou ’12, a Biology Department research technician.

Williams said that one of the most satisfying parts of her work is being able to create opportunities for students to be connected in collaborative working relationships with colleagues at other institutions. Blaine, who has focused on the computer modeling aspects of Williams’s research lab, has worked closely with a research team member at the University of Arizona through online meetings. William H. and Judith C. Turner Scholar Sara Khalil ’15, who worked on her senior thesis with Williams, spent the summer of her sophomore year doing arthropod research at the University of Arizona.

“Throughout the academic year, we have various mechanisms here on campus for students to present research,” said Williams. “I also work with students through Trinity’s Summer Science Research Program. I love that students can have that broader research experience here at a small liberal arts college like Trinity. It’s like a mini graduate school experience.”