Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ashland University Displays Unearthed Boulder on Campus; Ceremony Planned

10/19/18 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University officials have installed a plaque in front of a boulder that has found a new home on the east side of the Arthur and Maxine Sheets Rybolt Greenhouse on the AU campus. A ceremony to recognize the boulder and plaque will be held on Oct. 31 at 1 p.m.

“The plaque draws attention to this boulder that was unearthed near Nankin in Ashland County in the summer of 2017 by the Kinder Morgan Co. during construction of the Utopia East Pipeline,” said Dr. Nigel Brush, professor of Geology at AU. “It was found on the property of the John Keener family by a neighbor, Robert Brownson, who recognized its significance and reported it to the State Historic Preservation Office in Columbus.”

Brush said that Brent Eberhard of the State Historic Preservation Office then contacted Dave Dyer, who is the Curator of Natural History at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus: Dale Gnidovee, who is curator of the Orton Geological Museum at Ohio State University; and Brush to see if those respective institutions might be interested in recovering the boulder for display.

“Since Ashland University was closest to Nankin, they gave us first option on the boulder and we were very pleased to display it and tell its story,” Brush said.

Dr. William Reinthal, an adjunct faculty member in Geology at Ashland University, explained that this large igneous boulder originated on the Precambrian Shield in Canada and was formed deep underground over a billion years ago, probably at the base of an ancient volcanic mountain range.

“So, this rock has been through the wringer. Chemically eroded, this rock then began its new transformation into soil, until it was, unexpectedly, unearthed during pipeline excavation, only to be preserved for our benefit and study, at Ashland University,” Reinthal said. “This rock, quite literally, speaks of the Earth, and deep time.”

Reinthal noted, “The oldest, black portion of this boulder is a mafic-rich, hornblende-biotite, quartz monzonitc. This rock was later subjected to compressional stresses that yielded a characteristic 60/120 degree set of joint fractures that were often terminated, perpendicular to the angular intersections, by horizontal fractures. This produced a repeating trapezoidal pattern.”

Reinthal said that at a later date, a pink granitic magma came into contact with this black quartz monzonite and flowed into the joint fractures, spreading them apart and eventually isolating trapezoidal chunks of the monzonite in a matrix of granite. “This event also occurred deep within the earth as evidenced by the pegamatitic or coarse texture of late elements of the granitic inclusion, which formed veins containing large potassium feldspar crystals,” he added.

After hundreds-of-millions of years of erosion, overlying layers of rock were removed and the roots of this ancient volcanic mountain range were exposed. This rock was subsequently fragmented by weathering into boulders, cobbles and smaller sediments, Brush said.

“Some of these rock fragments, including this boulder, became embedded in a Canadian glacier during the Ice Age and were carried south into Ohio where they were deposited as glacial till when the ice sheet melted,” he said. “The boulder may have been deposited in this manner during the most recent glacial stage – the Wisconsin, some 70,000 to 10,000 years ago. Notice the large, shallow, polished glacial groove running from left to right across the front of this boulder.”

Finally, buried in a glacial till deposit near Nankin, the mafic minerals in the older quartz monzonite in this boulder, weathered away faster than the felsic minerals in the younger granite, he said. “This differential weathering produced the marked relief on the surface of this boulder with the more resistant granite standing out above the more deeply incised monzonite,” Brush said.

“Ashland University would like to thank the family of John Keener for donating this boulder, Kinder Morgan for loading the boulder and Simonson Construction Services for providing a truck to transport the boulder to campus and a large forklift for unloading the boulder,” he said.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ashland Toxicology majors spend summer internship at the Lubrizol Corporation

This is the second summer in a row that Ashland University Toxicology majors have spent their summer as paid interns at specialty chemicals producer Lubrizol in Northeast Ohio.  The Product Safety and Compliance department where they worked is managed by one of our Toxicology alumna, Karen Jordan '00.  Here is a report from one of those students, Abigail Culver, pictured to the right with fellow Tox major Jordin Vidmar.

During the summer, I was one of two Toxicology Interns at The Lubrizol Corporation in Wickliffe, Ohio. The Toxicology team is a small group within the Product Safety and Compliance department so I actually had the opportunity to work with different teams and learn more about their areas of work. Most of my time, however, was spent working on a project with the Toxicology team. The main goal of this project was to determine ways to improve their reproductive toxicity testing strategies and to find an easier way to classify chemicals as a reproductive hazard. For this project, I spent a lot of time data mining and pulling information on chemicals with reproductive studies. Once I collected all of the data, I had to restructure it in order to analyze possible trends that might lead to classification. I also had the opportunity to work on a small project with the Hazard Communication team to update reproductive classifications on their chemical log. I looked for discrepancies between their classifications and the Global Harmonizing System classifications, and then read through studies to decide whether or not reproductive classification should be adopted. During my time at Lubrizol, I also had the opportunity to shadow people from other departments and learn more about the chemical industry which was a really eye-opening experience. This internship showed me the non-laboratory side of Toxicology as well as gave me real-life applications of topics that I have learned about in classes. I learned so much during my time there and had the opportunity to meet so many new people. I am so grateful for my experience and would recommend this internship to anyone interested in Toxicology!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Ashland Science students intern at OARDC


Three Ashland University Science majors spent their summer interning in research laboratories at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the agricultural research campus for Ohio State University. Here is some news from one of those students, Biology/Toxicology/Environmental Science major Shelby Reutter.  Shelby is also one of our Choose Ohio First scholars.

"Over this summer I was an entomology intern at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, specifically the Horticultural Insects Research Laboratory working under USDA Research Entomologist Christopher Ranger and alongside his technician Jenny Barnett and another undergraduate student. The main focus of study in the lab is ambrosia beetles, which are a non native invasive species that attacks ornamental trees and other types of stressed trees. I assisted in a few different field experiments throughout the summer."

Shelby describes examining how the ambrosia beetles infect trees that are flood damaged or exposed to frost.  She also gained experience using analytical chemistry tools like High Performance Liquid Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS) to measure levels of chemicals in soil, and learned how to tell the difference between multiple species of beetles that farm fungi on local trees.

Check back for news on the other two students who did research at the OARDC this summer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Four AU students receive Ohio EPA Scholarships


Four AU science students were part of a group of 21 environmental science and engineering students who have been awarded scholarships to study at Ohio colleges and universities through Ohio EPA’s Environmental Education Fund. Since 2006, a total of 20 AU science students have been awarded this scholarship. 

The AU students receiving the $2,500 scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year are: Biology major Emily Nicholls of Mt. Vernon; Biology and Toxicology major Hayley Nininger of Centerburg; Biology and Environmental Science Major Tyler Theaker of Bellville; and Biology and Toxicology major Jordin Vidmar of Wadsworth.




All of the AU students selected are involved in environmental research projects.  This year, Emily Nicholls will continue her field studies using is
a combination of field sampling and aerial photography to compare the quality of a marsh dominated by invasive reed canary grass with that of a marsh with a diverse native plant community.  Tyler Theaker is studying the Sora and Virginia Rails, birds that inhabit emergent Wetland plant communities such as that of the Black Fork Wetlands.  He is analyzing feather samples to determine whether these birds are picking up toxic lead from lead shot accumulated from previous hunting.  Hayley Nininger and Jordin Vidmar are collaborating on a project to develop a rapid, reliable and cost-effective method to extract organochlorine, organophosphate, and pyrethroid insecticides from sediments.   They plan to sample AU’s Black Fork Wetlands later this year.


The funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by Ohio EPA for violations of air and water pollution control laws. The scholarship program is administered by the Ohio Academy of Science.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Life Science Education Major worked at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute this summer

Calum Watt is studying to become a high school science teacher.  For the past two summers he has been working in the Training and Education Department at a cancer research institute in Nashville, Tennessee.  Here is Cal's report from this summer.

This summer I’m working my second summer at Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA down in Nashville, TN. As a Life Science Education major, I was placed with their Training and Education Department for the second year in a row. Being back with these highly skilled individuals was great, as this summer I ran a course from development through production and facilitated those classes. It was a fantastic internship! 
Some facts about Sarah Cannon: 
  • It's the only company with a standardized cancer navigation network. 
  • Out of 48 new cancer drugs to hit the market, 37 of them had come through Sarah Cannon at some point. 
  • Sarah Cannon is a global company with roots in Nashville, it has clinics in Denver, London, Kansas City, and many other eastern cities. 
  • Sarah Cannon is the largest private oncology research company in the country, rivaling most universities.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Forensic Biology and Chemistry major studying Nuclear Chemistry at Brookhaven National Laboratory


This summer we are featuring stories from our students involved in science internships.  Coriana Borton is a double major in Forensic Chemistry and Forensic Biology, and is a member of the Honors Program.  She will be a senior this fall. She writes about her experiences this summer learning about nuclear and radiochemistry at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory:

“I am currently one of twelve students taking part in a 6-week intensive program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The main focus of this program is teaching nuclear and radiochemistry to undergraduate students. While here I am attending lectures, labs, and seminars. In laboratory I have gotten hands on experience working with radionuclides such as 59Fe, 113mIn, 113Sn, 3H, and 14C. Throughout the labs I have also been exposed to new instrumentation including Geiger-Müller, NaI, high-purity germanium, and liquid scintillation radiation detectors. Due to the work being done in the laboratories I first had to be trained as a radiation worker. So far, this program has done a great job in showing me the real life applications of nuclear and radiochemistry. I have been able to visit Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, Groton nuclear submarine base, a synchrotron light source, a heavy ion collider, and the NASA space radiation lab. With all of these experiences, it has been amazing to see the topics I am learning about in real life applications. So far I have had a great experience here; I have learned so many things that I would not have been able to anywhere else. In addition, I have been able to meet so many new people and talk to professionals who actually work in this field. While this program is a lot of work, I would definitely recommend it to any chemistry or physics major who is interested in learning more about nuclear and radiochemistry!”

Monday, July 9, 2018

Environmental Science major working as Natural Resource Intern at Gorman Nature Center

This summer we are featuring stories from our students involved in science internships.  Today we hear from Environmental Science/Biology major Tyler Theaker, our second student working at the Gorman Nature Center this summer.
I am the current summer Natural Resource Intern at Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield,
Ohio. My position mostly involves exotic/invasive species control, assisting in surveying and monitoring biotic inventories of park properties, assisting with preventative maintenance of power equipment and other heavy machinery, as well as Trail maintenance. The exotic/invasive species that I have and will be managing include garlic mustard, reed canary grass, multiflora rose, glossy buckthorn, honeysuckle, and Autumn-Olive. Eventually I will be assisting in the application of herbicides on such invasive plants. We do this to help restore parts of the park to their natural state. I have been surveying the activity of cavity nesting birds that inhabit the Park’s bluebird houses such as Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Carolina Chickadees, House Wrens, and the invasive House Sparrow. We take note on which species inhabits which bird house, whether or not the bird was present, and if there is a nest present the number of eggs as well. If there happens to be a nest of an invasive species such as the House sparrow, I have to take care of it. For preventative maintenance of equipment I take good care of and clean the equipment to last longer. When I maintain the trails I usually assist in cutting trees that may have fallen over the trails, mow and weed whack around the property, hedge trim over hanging tree limbs, lay out gravel in ruts, and pick up trash/litter to keep the property looking nice for the general public. Occasionally, when I am not working outside I interact with the public: answering phone calls, directing visitors, and interpreting nature center information; assist with and conduct natural history programs; and work with and care for educational and display animals. This internship has been a great experience thus far, and I encourage future biology or environmental majors to apply for this internship!