Monday, March 12, 2018

Ashland University students and faculty launch water quality monitoring program

The Black Fork of the Mohican River and the Black Fork Wetlands have been receiving a monthly
“check-up” since July 2017. This month marks the first check-up in 2018, as water quality data continues to be collected, analyzed, and used to shape our understanding of local water health. Six current students are involved in Ashland University’s Water Quality (AUWQua) Monitoring Program: Natalie Kracker ’18, Alexis Lough ’19, Maria Kern ’19, Shelby Reutter ’19, Alexis Flagg ’19, and Elizabeth Takacs ’20. Student-led field teams collect water from pre-determined sampling sites for nutrient analysis in the lab and use a multiprobe to measure water temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen.

These measurements are important in determining the current health of the water and enhance our understanding of the organisms that can live there. This type of project is especially informative in agricultural areas, as nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can contribute to algal blooms, are tracked. Large quantities of algae have caused concern in other nearby aquatic systems. In recent years, harmful algal blooms (HABs), caused by toxin-producing algae, have occurred in Lake Erie, Buckeye Lake, and even the Ohio River. Armed with the baseline data being collected by the AUWQua Monitoring Program, we can begin to coordinate efforts to maintain or improve best practices to protect our water quality.

Several AU Sciences faculty (Patty Saunders, Mason Posner, Dolly Crawford, Robert Bergosh, and Jenna Dolhi) are spearheading this project with funding provided from the University’s Provost Innovation Grant and Biology Department.

Coming soon! Ashland University Computer Science students, mentored by Iyad Ajwa, are developing a web application for public dissemination of the local water quality data.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Forensic Biology major interns in two Beijing, China hospitals

Forensic Biology major Stefanie Fockler was selected as the University's Intern of the Month for January.  Stefanie spent her summer in Beijing, China as a doctor assistant at two hospitals.  Stefanie speaks Mandarin and is active in our University's ACCESS program for international students.  Her goal after graduating from Ashland is to earn her combined MD/PhD and conduct medical research.

Stefanie writes: “I loved interning abroad. I would advise people to pick a broad internship that allows them to experience many different areas. This helped me to pick what I wanted to study after graduating from Ashland University. Maybe you will find that you love something you never considered before.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ashland Biology major spends summer health internship in Croatia

Hannah Wiles is a senior majoring in Biology and Health and Risk Communication planning to become a physicians assistant after graduating this Spring.  This past summer Hannah interned for two weeks in a hospital in Pula, Croatia as part of a program called Gap Medics. In her first week she worked in the Ear, Nose and Throat Medicine Department where she observed several procedures and had the chance to assist with sutures.  During week two Hannah worked in General and Abdominal Surgery where she observed the removal of pancreatic and stomach tumors and hip repair and replacement surgeries.

Hannah writes that the experience allowed her to see the differences in health care in another country.
"In Pula, Croatia the surgeons only put patients under general anesthesia for the more extreme procedures, so the majority of patients remain awake for their procedures with only spinal anesthesia. They also cannot afford air conditioning in the hospitals so only emergency surgeries are performed during the summer due to the heat and increased risk of infection. Not only was I able to see how Croatia’s healthcare operated, but was able to talk to students from all around the world who I was living with for two weeks about how their healthcare system operates as well. This was a great experience to not only get to travel abroad, but also a great chance to observe many medical procedures in a short amount of time."
If you would like help in finding international internship experiences in health care and the sciences contact Ashland University's Global Education Office.

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.”
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.