Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ashland Toxicology major interns at Gorman Nature Center

Over the summer we plan to share stories about our many science students working in science-related internships this summer.  First is a report from Danielle Bates, a Biology and Toxicology double major.  The Gorman Nature Center, where she works this summer, has hired AU science students for the past few summers, and the Center's Volunteer Director, Amanda Kriner ('13), is one of our alumna.

I am the current summer education intern at Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, OH. A
large part of my position is educating the public on the wildlife and habitat in the area. We have numerous programs for kids and adults alike. During the month of May we have several school field trips visiting the Nature Center and we set up different stations that allow the kids to learn and do different activities. These activities include using aquatic nets at the pond and fossil hunting in the stream. Part of my internship is also caring for the animals we have at the Nature Center, including snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders (tiger salamander in photo)! I check their behavior every day and ensure that they have clean tanks and water. I will be working on a project while I am here, hopefully documenting smooth greensnakes on the property! They are endangered in Ohio and we have documented the first one in Richland county. While my internship is technically "indoor", I am outside quite a bit. It is truly a blast working here! Every day is different. This internship is a great opportunity for any college student majoring in a field of science or education!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ashland Alumna Perseveres to her Ph.D. and a Research Career

Dr. Kelly Harrison (‘2010, second from left in the front row) with her lab group at the University of Kansas.

Following graduation with a degree in biology from Ashland University in 2010, Dr. Kelly Harrison started her journey toward her Ph.D. by working as a research technician in Dr. Harry Kestler’s lab at Lorain County Community College, looking at the CCR5 cell receptor and the ability of HIV to infect cells.  She entered the Micro/molecular genetics doctoral program at Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2012, initially studying virulence factors from Salmonella and Shigella as broadly protective vaccines against enteric pathogens. 

In her first class on first day of her Ph.D. studies a professor came in to speak about "how to be successful" and told the class that the only thing important in grad school was not brains or talent or whatever, but GRIT. Kelly writes, "It’s so true.  A river cuts through rock not because of it's power but because of its persistence!"  Little did she know how much persistence would be required of her to finish her Ph.D. program. 

The first challenge occurred in 2014 when she transferred to the University of Kansas with her advisors to continue her research.  While at KU, she was selected as an ASM (American Society of Microbiology) Teaching fellow for the following year and, in February 2015, was selected to present her research with Salmonella vaccines in cattle to the State Senate and Governor (and won the Capital Graduate and BioKansas research summit).

Kelly completed her Ph.D. with Dr. P. Scott Hefty of KU, working on genetic manipulation systems in Chlamydia.  However five months into her research with Dr. Hefty, Kelly was visiting her family for homecoming at Oklahoma State and was one of the victims in the crash caused by a driver who drove into the crowd watching the homecoming parade.  She was severely injured, and was life-flighted to Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, where she underwent multiple surgeries and a blood transfusion.  After extensive rehab and while continuing physical therapy, she returned to the lab in March 2016.  She won the ASM Regional meeting Poster presentation on her first day back, and defended her dissertation (“Discovery of Genetic Correlates Important for Chlamydia Infection and Pathogenesis”) in July of last year.

Dr. Harrison is currently working as a post-doc back at Oklahoma State University, studying the host-pathogen interactions of the Herpes Simplex 1 virus.  She writes that she discovered her love for microbiology and immunology during her studies at Ashland, and because of her experiences here hopes to teach and do research at a small, private university. Kelly states, “The interactions between professors and students are so much more significant when class sizes are smaller and those interactions are what really shape student's lives.”  Reflecting on her journey, she writes that “I think the best advice I could give would be to never give up. Even with a number of obstacles (moving states, switching labs, the crash) I still managed to get done in 5 years solely because I'm stubborn and refused to give up. I had every excuse to and no one would blame me. But you can't give up so easily.”

Monday, April 30, 2018

Charles River supports Toxicology major's travel to national meeting

Last spring Toxicology and Environmental Science double major Luke Knight received a travel award from the Society of Toxicology to attend the Undergraduate Diversity program at the annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Luke was invited to attend this year's meeting in San Antonio and serve as peer-mentor for that same program. Our local industry partner, Charles River Laboratories, supported Luke's travel and he sent in this report and some photos.
I got the opportunity to serve as a peer mentor for the 2018 Society of Toxicology annual meeting that was being held in San Antonio, Texas thanks to the travel grant offered by Charles River Laboratories. I was offered the position for the peer mentorship because I have a major in toxicology and I was an Undergraduate Diversity Program Awards recipient for the 2017 meeting in Baltimore. My role as a mentor was to offer guidance and to answer any particular questions regarding the profession, speaking from personal experiences in my collegiate career thus far. I also helped engage the students in discussion about particular prompts and encouraged them to participate in the presentations that were being held. Aside from the peer mentorship, I got the chance to experience the ToxExpo and to speak to prospective employers about future careers. Overall, I was very excited to have the chance to go to the conference again and meet up with some people that I befriended from the previous year. Also, I cannot thank Charles River Laboratories enough for giving me another chance to experience the SOT meeting.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Ashland Science students heading to summer internships

We are starting to get news from our students about the exciting internships they will take part in this summer.  These opportunities range from internships in animal rehabilitation at the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in North Carolina, to more local internships in toxicology at the Lubrizol Corporation, in entomology at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and with the Gorman Nature Center.

A student will also be heading to Central Michigan University to take part in a National Science Foundation funded research internship in Great Lakes ecosystem ecology while two others will be staying right here in the Kettering Science Center working on research using the zebrafish to study lens cataracts and blindness.

Stay tuned for more student internships news, and reports back from students at the end of the summer.

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.