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Senior's research career takes flight

Mike Reinhart admits that he took his love for evolutionary and ecological biology and “hounded” Assistant Professor Anthony Fiumera for a role in his lab.

“I think he and other professors are looking for enthusiasm in the subject,” said Reinhart, a 21-year-old senior from Pompton Lakes, N.J. “As long as you’re enthusiastic and hard-working, there will be someone who will want to take you on as a researcher.”

But Reinhart is more than a hard-working and enthusiastic researcher. His study of captive breeding programs is not only about to be published, but has earned him an undergraduate research award from Harpur College.

The biology major found that captive breeding programs should be kept as close to natural environments as possible and animals should be kept in the programs for as short an amount of time as possible to “avoid unpredictable changes to genetics.”

“It’s nice to see your work get out there as an undergraduate,” Reinhart said. “It’s a great feeling to see the work you’re doing enter the scientific community. I know it’s going to be rewarding because I know all of the work I’ve put into it.”

In Fiumera’s lab, Reinhart is helping to examine how male and female fruit flies interact after reproduction. The female mates with multiple males, leading to a competition to store the sperm. Fiumera’s research, which is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is looking to identify the genes involved in these interactions. Reinhart, in particular, is studying the female fruit fly’s role.

Fiumera called Reinhart “a model undergraduate researcher and a promising young scientist.”

“Mike’s research contributions demonstrate that Binghamton University has some of the best undergraduate students anywhere,” Fiumera said. “Mike will excel in graduate school and I expect him to continue to make valuable scientific contributions.”

Some of Reinhart’s free time is spent as a member of the Fencing Club, where he mostly serves as an instructor and referee. Again, Reinhart is more than an enthusiastic participant: he was a state-ranked fencer in New Jersey as a high school junior.

Reinhart hopes to stay at Binghamton for a master’s degree and eventually continue in the research field.

“I’ve loved going to school here,” he said. “My work in the lab has really challenged me to think critically, apply thought and stay disciplined and hard-working. Before I came here, I didn’t know what hard work was. Now I do.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08