Student Research Projects

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences


The soft-shell clam species Mya arenaria is a common model organism in leukemia research. Currently, the typical method for classifying leukemic from non-leukemic specimens is based on visualization of cell concentration and morphology through light microscopy. This approach is highly qualitative, which makes identification of pre-leukemic and semi-leukemic specimens difficult. One more quantitative approach uses flow cytometry to measure levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) expression. In certain human tissues, such as breast tissue, high ALDH expression is a marker for identifying cancer stem cells. The enzyme assay ALDEFLUOR® can actively measure aldehyde dehydrogenase expression in viable cells, but the effectiveness of certain protocol conditions is dependent upon the cell type. This project finds the ideal protocol conditions for the ALDEFLUOR® enzyme assay as an alternative method for classifying M. arenaria specimens. It also examines the advantages and disadvantages of both methods, and compares each of them for use in leukemia research.

Date of Publication or Presentation

Spring 2014

Project Type

Undergraduate Research Project

College or School


First Advisor

Charles Walker