Friday, August 25, 2017

Ashland alumna is Postdoctoral Fellow in Regulatory Science

Following her graduation from Ashland, Daphne Guinn (Toxicology '11) earned a PhD in biomedical sciences from The Ohio State University, working in the chronic lymphocytic leukemia laboratory  of Dr. John Byrd and Dr. Amy Johnson.  Currrently she works as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University in the Program for Regulatory Science and Medicine.  Daphne has written a blog about her postdoctoral work that explains her current role.   Daphne is working on a research project focused on using real world data collected with electronic health records to inform research studies that can improve efficacy and reduce the cost of clinical development for drugs benefitting patients with rare diseases.

Her mentor, Dr. Ira Shoulson, writes that “In Daphne’s relatively brief tenure as a fellow, she has launched a novel research project to advance experimental therapeutics for rare diseases. Using real-world data and rigorous statistical approaches, Dr. Guinn and her mentors are conducting research to facilitate the development, regulatory review, and approval of innovative treatments for diseases that share common molecular profiles.”

https://www.focr.org/blog/engaging-innovation/what-%E2%80%98regulatory-science%E2%80%99-and-why-it-here-stay
Dr. Daphne Guinn ('11) and her mentor Dr. Ira Shoulson

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Geology alumna studies lead corrosion

AU Geology alumna Jennifer Miller Tully ('11) is conducting research to understand lead pipe corrosion to help reduce problems such as occurred recently in Flint, Michigan due to the corrosion of lead water supply lines.  Her lab was featured in a recent NOVA PBS special on the problems in Flint, and Jennifer appears in the video shortly after the 51 minute mark. After moving on from Ashland, Jennifer received a Master's degree in Geology from Miami University and served as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) research participant with the EPA Office of Water and Office of Research and Development located in Cincinnati before taking her current position.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Choose Ohio First Scholars complete summer research internships

One of the strengths of our Choose Ohio First Scholarship (COF) program is the large proportion of our COF scholars involved in mentored undergraduate research projects.  Each summer we provide stipends, room and board for several COF scholars to continue that work through the summer.  Over the past few months we hosted four scholars along with two other students taking part in research projects with four faculty members.

Biology major Kelly Murray began her research project at Ashland while still a Choose Ohio First scholar at North Central State College, a community college in Mansfield, Ohio.  Kelly did an internship with Dr. Mason Posner at AU before joining our COF program, and then joined his research lab.  Kelly just graduated this spring and will be entering the Molecular and Cell Biology PhD program at Cornell University in the Fall.

Chemistry major Corey Turpin continued his synthetic organic chemistry research with Dr. Nick Johnson this summer.  The photo to the right shows Corey analyzing purified compounds using our 400 mhz NMR.  Corey plans to attend graduate school to become a University Chemistry Professor after his upcoming senior year.

Two rising COF sophomores had the opportunity to spend their first summers at AU in the lab.  Biology major Julia Owens worked with Dr. Paul Hyman to purify and identify bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria.  Forensic Biology/Toxicology double major Maria Kern worked with Dr. Jenna Dolhi to collect and identify microscopic protists living in the waters of our Black Fork Wetlands environmental preserve.  Julia, Maria and Corey are pictured below, along with another summer research student, Forensic Biology major Matt McDonald, after giving presentations on their work.

Ashland University has hosted a Choose Ohio First Program since 2009.  These scholarship dollars are given by the State of Ohio to support Ohio high school students entering STEM college programs.  Our program has 28 graduates and will support 32 additional students this coming Fall.







Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ashland Biology major starts forensics career in Cuyahoga County

Biology major and Choose Ohio First Scholar Jessica Dunkle graduated from Ashland in 2014 and headed to George Washington University for a Masters of Arts in Forensic Psychology.  After completing her graduate degree along with an internship in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Jessica has returned to Northeast Ohio as a Medicolegal Death Investigator for the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.  Jessica sent us an update on her experiences in graduate school and her new job:
The Wi-fi password in my new apartment was recently changed by my sister to “Jess sees dead people.” Mainly because she wanted a clever name, but also because she isn’t wrong. I see dead people every time I go to work as a Medicolegal Death Investigator. 
After graduating from Ashland with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, I still wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do and decided that I didn’t want to be done with school quite yet. I enrolled in a program at George Washington University in D.C. to get my Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. The program lasted for two years and during that time I learned about the connection between psychology and the legal system. I took classes including: Theories of Criminal Behavior, Psychopathology, Interrogation & Interviewing, Police Psychology, and Criminal Profiling. During this time, I became extremely interested in investigation and decided to do a few different internships to determine which option would ultimately be best for me. 
The first internship I performed was through the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Unit. I had the experience of going to crime scenes, observing witness interviews, and having the opportunity to see the crime scene unit perform evidence collection and map the scene. The second internship though is where I really felt like I had fallen into the right career path. I worked with the Medical Examiner’s Office in Northern Virginia where I had the opportunity to shadow investigators that acted as the eyes and ears of the Forensic Pathologists. My experiences in examining deceased individuals allowed me the opportunity to come back to Ohio and start my career in Cuyahoga County. 
My official job title for the county lists me as a Medicolegal Death Investigator working under the jurisdiction of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner. I perform a myriad of duties including: taking calls from hospitals and nursing homes to decide on jurisdiction, identifying bodies that come in as unrecognizable or unknown, finding and informing family of a death, and conducting scene visits. During a scene visit, the duty of the investigator is to gather information that a forensic pathologist may not be able to determine from looking at the body alone. I will document all wounds, drugs or paraphernalia found on scene, any weapons, and anything that may be altered in transportation such as body positioning and odors. The knowledge that I gained during my undergraduate career at Ashland has helped with identifying various wounds, prescription medications, and stages of human decomposition. 
When people ask me what I do, it is hard to gage how one will react. Sometimes I am met with interest, while other times I am met with extreme disgust. However, no matter the reaction, I enjoy my profession and assisting those who are no longer able to speak for themselves.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Six Ashland Science grads start full-time jobs at Charles River Laboratories

Biology graduate and Choose Ohio First
Scholar Alexa Ross graduated
in three years and recently started working
at CRL full time
The science programs at Ashland University have had a long collaboration with Charles River Laboratories, our local contract research organization specializing in the safety testing of human and veterinary drugs.  Our relationship with this company dates back to the 1980s, when they were known as Wil Research Laboratory, and helped lead to the development of our undergraduate Toxicology program, one of only ten in North America.

Over thirty Ashland University alumni currently work at Charles River Labs, and around eight of our science students had paid internships at the facility this past academic year, giving them valuable career experience before graduation.  Five of those students had full-time jobs waiting for them at Charles River when they graduated this Spring, and one began a job this summer even though he will not graduate until December.  Two of our new Charles River alums are shown in the photos.

Toxicology graduate Emily Dine (far right) interned at CRL
for two years and now works there full time
Charles River Labs maintains research and drug testing facilities all over North America and the world, providing employees the opportunity to transfer to other locations or stay local here in Ashland.  Not only does Charles River employ our students and alumni, but their Human Resource staff lead career workshops for our science majors here on the AU campus and hosts tours of their facility.  Our science programs and this important local industry have developed a strong partnership that greatly benefits both of us.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ashland Biology major receives grant from Ohio Biological Survey

Olivia in the field
Graduating biology major Olivia Widenmeyer has been doing field research at Ashland University's Black Fork Wetlands preserve to investigate populations of two rare bird species.  The Sora and Virginia Rails are considered species of concern by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  Olivia and her faculty research mentor, Professor Merrill Tawse, have identified both birds at our wetlands preserve.  These birds are secretive and difficult to study, but Olivia has been able to detect the call of both species and has captured individual Virginia Rails.  By attaching radio transmitters to the birds she is able to determine how they use their habitat.  Olivia recently received a $500 grant from the Ohio Biological Survey to purchase additional transmitters for this project.

 Olivia's research so far has suggested that Rails avoid parts of the wetlands containing the invasive Reed Canary Grass.  If true, spread of the grass could further limit the habitat used by these birds.  Ashland University is a member institution of the Ohio Biological Survey and we are excited about receiving their support for this important research.
Presenting at our annual URCA research symposium


Olivia will be applying to Physician Assistant programs later this year.  She was co-president of our American Medical Student Association chapter and President of our Tri-Beta biology honors group.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ashland Science students present their research at annual symposium

Our College of Arts and Sciences recently held its 8th Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Symposium.  This annual celebration of our students' faculty-mentored independent scholarship has always included a strong showing from our science students.  This year was no different, with 20 science students presenting research mentored by faculty from biology, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, geology, physics and toxicology.

Check out photos below from both oral presentations and well-attended poster sessions.  Congratulations to the great work done by our students.  Some of these students are graduating seniors, and we will be sharing news here on their plans for next year.  Other students will be heading off to various summer internships.  The captions give some information about each student.

Senior Meghann Fitzpatrick worked with Chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer to measure toxic metals from cookware used in developing countries and tested techniques to prevent them from being leached into food

Biology and Health Risk Communications major Hannah Wiles worked with Nursing and Exercise Science major Mitch Ellis and faculty mentor Kristen Simokat from Biology to find methods for dissecting and isolating the central nervous system from human cadavers

Senior Toxicology majors Lauren Bacigalupi and Emily Dine worked with Toxicology faculty member Andy Trimble to refine methods for purifying and quantifying toxic compounds from plants often eaten by farm animals.  Lauren and Emily are currently paid interns at Charles River Laboratories, a drug testing firm in Ashland, Ohio

Biology major Isabella Steiner worked with biology faculty member Merrill Tawse to study the salamander populations at Ashland University's nearby Black Fork Wetlands nature preserve.  Isabella will be defending her honors thesis based on this project next week and is applying for programs in veterinary medicine.

Senior Kelly Murray used genome editing techniques to study proteins involved in lens cataract, a leading cause of human blindness.  She will be presenting this same poster at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus this week as part of a special event for Choose Ohio First Scholars.  This State-funded scholarship program currently supports 23 Ashland science students (including Isabella, Hannah and Corey found in these pictures).  Kelly will be starting a PhD program at Cornell University in the Fall.

Chemistry majors Corey Turpin and Lacy Hepp worked with faculty member Nicholas Johnson to develop organic chemistry techniques for synthesizing drug delivery devices.  They are talking with this year's faculty chair of our URCA Committee, chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer

It wasn't all science.  Environmental Science/Biology major Chanel Bluntschly performed in a saxophone quartet to highlight how small groups of musicians play without a conductor.