Snips, snails and puppydog tails? Not exactly. More like fish, snails, worms, parasites ... and microsatellites. These are all elements of the research in population genetics performed by Le Moyne students under Dr. Devon Keeney’s close supervision. Devon actually began mentoring undergraduates in research during his postdoctoral work in New Zealand. Since setting up his research lab at Le Moyne, he has mentored a stream of undergraduate research students. Of the 10 students (now alumni) Devon mentored in the past nine years, five are currently in, or have completed, Ph.D. programs and one is working currently as a research scientist. Another recent student landed a summer research position in Costa Rica using the skills he learned in Devon’s lab. This level of success in sending students on to graduate programs in basic research is remarkable, given the number of biology majors aiming for careers in the health professions. Indeed, three of Devon’s research students have gone on to medical or dental school, but some now in Ph.D. programs originally planned on medical school until they discovered the excitement of basic research. Not only has he successfully seduced such students to “the dark side” (i.e., real science), but Devon’s students leave well prepared for the rigor of working in research labs at top-notch universities, industry and international labs.
Along with mentorship of his own research students, Devon’s commitment to undergraduate research is evident in his long and outstanding service on the Student Research Committee (SRC). Devon has been a member of that committee since 2009, his second year at Le Moyne College, and has been chair of the SRC since 2015. During his tenure that committee has seen continued expansion in the number of students both applying for SRC funding and presenting their research on campus during Student Scholars Day. The latter is an annual daylong event run by the SRC that has been thriving under Devon’s dedicated oversight.
Much like Lou De Gennaro himself, Devon shares with his research students the “ah-ha” of discovery, the joys and frustrations of experimental science, and the excitement of presenting their work both at Le Moyne and to the broader scientific community. Dr. Devon Keeney is a stellar example of Le Moyne’s commitment to undergraduate research, continually supporting research students. He does this not only with those in his own lab, but also through his work on the SRC with many others in the diverse disciplines across this campus.
For his excellence in mentoring and supporting undergraduate research, Le Moyne College is proud to present to Devon B. Kenney, Ph.D., The Louis D. DeGennaro Ph.D. Undergraduate Mentor Award.