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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Lecture commemorates 50th anniversary of Science as a Cultural Force

Prof. William Vaughan introducing Dr. Allan Brandt of Harvard University
A lecture presented by Dr. Allan M. Brandt, Kass Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, was held on the AU campus March 29 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of an Interdisciplinary Science Course at Ashland University.

Dr. Brandt spoke to an audience of nearly 250 people on the topic, “The Tobacco Pandemic and Global Governance: Historical and ethical perspectives on the persistence of smoking in the 21st century.”
Brandt holds a joint appointment between the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School. 

The occasion for the evening’s lecture was the 50th anniversary of AU’s interdisciplinary course Science as a Cultural Force team taught by a faculty member from the humanities and another from the sciences. The course, first taught in 1967, was the suggestion of C.S. Lewis.

In 1962, Dr. Tom Vanosdall, a science professor at Ashland University, started corresponding with well-known public intellectuals, (including Lewis Mumford, C.S. Lewis, and C. P. Snow), about various intellectual topics. One such topic was the relationship between science and ethics.

Professor Vanosdall thought it was important to seek out viewpoints from other disciplines. He started developing a unique course that would require plural perspectives, and would be team-taught by a scientist and another discipline in the humanities, to specifically bring the conflicts and divergent viewpoints of science and values together in the same class.

Since 1967, the Science as a Cultural Force course has addressed a variety of topics including the teaching of evolution vs. creationism, the development of nuclear weapons, and issues surrounding the tobacco wars. 

Dr. Brandt spent the day on the AU campus talking with various classes and student groups, including students in the Honors Program.

“As we spoke briefly after the program, he emphasized how impressed he has been with Ashland students and the good questions they asked throughout the day and evening,” said Dr. Dawn Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “He also made a point to emphasize how truly fortunate we are to have such excellent faculty within the arts and sciences.”

Dr. William Vaughan, professor of Philosophy, and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, trustees’ distinguished professor of Chemistry, organized the lecture and are currently teaching the Science as a Cultural Force course.

Dr. Brandt served as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 2008 to 2012. He earned his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University. His work focuses on social and ethical aspects of health, disease, medical practices, and global health in the 20th century. Brandt is the author of No Magic Bullet:  A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 (1987); and co-editor of Morality and Health (1997).  He has written on the social history of epidemic disease; the history of public health and health policy; and the history of human experimentation among other topics.  His book on the social and cultural history of cigarette smoking in the U.S., The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America, was published by Basic Books in 2007 (paperback, 2009).   The book received the Bancroft Prize from Columbia University in 2008 and the Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine in 2011. Dr. Brandt has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Posner and Weidenhamer Among Mentor Award Recipients

Eight Ashland University faculty and staff members were honored during the University’s Academic Mentor Awards recognition ceremony.  

Kelly Murray, a senior Biology major from Ashland, Ohio, nominated Dr. Mason Posner, Professor of Biology.  Meghann Fitzpatrick, a senior Biology major from Mooresville, Indiana, nominated Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, Trustees' Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.  Check out this article for more details.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Study Conducted at AU Warns of Toxic Metals

Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer
Researchers at Ashland University and Occupational Knowledge International tested 42 samples of aluminum cookware made in 10 developing countries and more than one-third pose a lead exposure hazard.  The cookware also released significant levels of aluminum, arsenic and cadmium.

Published in the February 1, 2017 issue of Science of the Total Environment, the study was coauthored by Jeffrey Weidenhamer (Trustees' Distinguished Professor of Chemistry), Meghann Fitzpatrick (Senior Biology major), Alison Biro (Toxicology '15), Peter Kobunski (Biochemistry '15), Michael Hudson (Associate Professor of Geology), Rebecca Corbin (Professor of Chemistry), and Perry Gottesfeld (OK International).  Visit this AU News Center link for more information.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ashland Biology major graduates as co-valedictorian

Congratulations to December Biology graduate, Alyssa Predota, who was honored as the University's co-valedictorian.  Alyssa also minored in chemistry and mathematics, completed an honors program research thesis with faculty member Dr. Dolly Crawford and was a member of our University's Choose Ohio First STEM scholarship program.  Pictured below is Alyssa giving her address at our December graduation.

Alyssa will be starting a physician assistant program in Fall of 2017 and is still deciding on which program to enter.  In the meantime she will be interning at a regional women's shelter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ashland University Receives $650,000 NSF Grant for Scholarships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Ashland University $650,000 in S-STEM grant funding.  This five-year project will provide scholarship money to create a Science Scholars program for students pursuing a major in biology, chemistry/biochemistry, environmental science, geology, physics, and toxicology.  Check out this article for more details.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

AU Biochemist Honored at Sugar Bowl


AU biochemistry grad and linebacker Zach Bernhard was honored on the field during halftime of this week's Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans for being one of 25 member's on the 2016 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team!  

 While Zach is completing his MBA this spring he is finishing up a research project on the cadmium content of protein drinks.  In October, he presented a poster on this research at the meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Boston.  This poster was co-authored by toxicology alumna Megan Kracker ('16) and faculty mentors David Vanata (Dietetics) and Jeff Weidenhamer (Chemistry).