Montana State University

Long-time interest in science leads student into research

January 21, 2003 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU Research Office


Loni Queer   High-Res Available

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Loni Queer has been interested in science for as long as she can remember. "I always thought it would be a lot of fun," says the Butte native who loved the whole process of investigating and figuring things out. She was constantly taking things apart and asking, "Why does this do that? Why does that do that?" Now a senior at Montana State University-Bozeman, Queer formalized her fascination by majoring in biotechnology and participating in the Undergraduate Scholars Program (USP) which gives undergraduates a chance to do research projects. Queer is currently investigating a parasite called tritrichomonas foetus, which causes cattle to abort their calves. "Essentially what's she's doing is trying to look at the ability of immune cells to kill those protozoa," explains her mentor, Donald Burgess, an associate professor in veterinary molecular biology. "We want to understand what sort of immune responses will destroy the parasite," Burgess continued. "... If we understand better what immune responses can kill the pathogen, maybe we could enhance those or find a way to make that killing more efficient." Queer does her research in a Veterinary Molecular Biology laboratory at MSU. She is currently focusing on macrophages which are major players in the host's immune response. She is using staining methods that tell her at a glance which parasites are alive. In some experiments, for example, fluorescent green indicates live parasites. The overall goal is to improve the odds of live births among cattle. "Anything that causes problems in achieving a 95 percent or higher calving rate eventually gets the attention of these farmers," Burgess commented. Queer didn't grow up on a ranch, so bovine reproduction and cows are new to her. But research fascinates her, and she hopes it will help get her into veterinarian school. Queer once wanted to be a human doctor, but changed her mind because veterinarians work with people and animals alike. "Animals are a lot of fun," said Queer who fills in at the All West Veterinary Hospital in Bozeman and owns a German Shepherd/lab named Trapper. Besides animals, Queer enjoys snowshoeing, snowboarding, hiking and fishing. She is the daughter of Margie and Mike Harry, and a sister to Zach Harry of Butte.

Contact: Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu