Research Project Description

Examining the Influence of Isolation on Gender in Helisoma trivolvis

This study investigates what factors determine gender role in mating pairs of Helisoma trivolvis, a hermaphroditic freshwater snail. It also looks at the influence of time without access to a mating partner on gender role in Helisoma trivolvis.

Project Title

Examining the Influence of Isolation on Gender in Helisoma trivolvis


image preview




Briana Brady ’11 is no stranger to performing science experiments. With a degree in biology, Brady graduated from St. Kate’s with a wealth of research experience. This is due in part to her student-faculty research project with Professor of Biology Cindy Norton. Brady heard Norton present her own research on Helisoma trivolvis, the hermaphroditic freshwater snail, during a biology seminar. Afterwards, Brady approached Norton to ask about working together.

Brady wanted to expand on Norton’s existing research around this organism, by exploring the factors that determine whether the snail takes on the role of male or female. The study includes isolating the snails from a mating partner and seeing how that impacts gender role.

Brady says this behavior study was the perfect balance between intriguing and challenging. “Through this experience I learned how to be self-motivated. I was responsible for planning out the experiment, which was fun, but it was difficult to think of all the components that we needed to measure the results.”

A highlight of the project for Brady was having Norton as a mentor. “We collaborated really well and Dr. Norton was extremely helpful,” says Brady. “She is so knowledgeable about this area of research.”

Brady and Norton conducted the study during the summer of 2010. Brady says the June to August was an ideal time for her to research and advises other St. Kate’s students to do the same. “You typically don’t take a full course load in the summer months as you would during fall or winter, so you have more time to focus on the research.”

She also says St. Kate’s students should use their professors as resources when exploring potential areas of research.

“Look at what the professors here have done and if their research topic interests you, talk to them. Express your interest,” Brady says. “Professors at St. Kate’s are always willing to help in any way they can.”

To learn more about this research, please visit Examining the Influence of Isolation on Gender in Helisoma trivolvis.