Sunday, March 31, 2019

AU student wins top poster award

Junior Abbi Dingus, who is a double major in Biology and Biochemistry, won the top undergraduate poster award (a $300 prize) at the Ohio State University Plant Sciences Symposium, which was held March 30th in Columbus, OH.  Abbi's poster, entitled "Density-dependent growth responses of Arabidopsis to copper: High densities are beneficial for efficient contaminant uptake," summarizes work done for her Honors' thesis under the direction of Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer (Chemistry) and Dr. Soren Brauner (Biology).  Collaborating on the project is Dr. Aki Sinkkonen of the University of Helsinki.

Abbi's work explores the mechanism for unexpected decreases in the toxicity of copper at high plant densities, and by using mutants of Arabidopsis that do not release citrate from their roots, provides evidence that the release of citrate can bind copper in the soil.  At high plant densities with normal plants, the higher concentrations of citrate can reduce copper toxicity.  Her work is relevant to the phytoremediation of soil contaminated with metals, which is a major global problem, and to ecotoxicological testing methods, which typically do not consider the importance of plant density.  Abbi will make an oral presentation of her work at next week's URCA Symposium, which will be held on Tuesday, April 9th.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ashland University to Host 59th Annual Mohican District Science Day

From the Ashland University News Center – A total of 219 students from 36 schools are expected to converge on the Ashland University campus Saturday, March 23, for the 59th annual Mohican District Science Day.  Sponsored by the Mohican District Junior Division of the Ohio Academy of Science, the event will be held in Ashland University’s John C. Myers Convocation Center.

According to Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, professor of Chemistry at Ashland University and Science Day director, all projects displayed at the district fair have received superior ratings in local school district science fairs.  The students participating will represent high schools, junior high/middle schools and fifth and sixth grades in eight different counties: Ashland, Erie, Holmes, Huron, Lorain, Medina, Richland and Wayne.

“We are very pleased with the total number of students and the number of participating schools this year,” Weidenhamer said.  “Students do hands-on experiments, collect and analyze data and draw conclusions, rather than just reading and reporting what someone else has done.  Many projects are original and creative.”

The public is invited to view the science projects from 12:30 to 2 p.m.  Registration for the day begins at 7:30 a.m., with judging to start at 9 a.m.  Awards will be presented during a public ceremony at 2 p.m.

The top 66 projects at the district level from students in grades 5-12 will be eligible to advance to the state competition at The Ohio State University on May 11.  

Weidenhamer said this year’s event will include approximately 100 local judges and volunteers from education, industry, business and medical professions.  “We cannot do this event without the help of all of our volunteers and the facilities and the support provided by Ashland University,” he said.

Weidenhamer thanked Council President Jeff Steele who assists with the administration of the science fair, the Mohican District Council members, and volunteers who work in a variety of capacities prior to and throughout the day, for the countless hours they contribute to the success of the annual event.

He also stressed that, “this event would not be a successful and rewarding experience for our local students without the hard work and commitment of science teachers and the support of their school districts in fostering increased science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy.”

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ashland University science alumna presents on her career in veterinary science

Ashland Science alumna Nichole Olp (Biology '10) earned her DVM from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and is now practicing with the Bigger Road Veterinary Center.  Dr. Olp was on campus recently to talk with our pre-veterinary science students about preparing for and getting into vet school, and her experiences as a practicing veterinarian.  She provided excellent advice and a great sense of the challenges and rewards of veterinary medicine.

Two current pre-veterinary students are planning a new pre-vet student club.  Contact Mason Posner if you would like to learn more.

Dr. Nichole Olp (4th from the right) after speaking with Ashland Science
pre-vet students

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Highlights from our recent AU Science alumni social

This past November we hosted our first AU Science alumni social at Uniontown Brewing in downtown Ashland and had a great evening catching up with a number of alums.  Check out some photos from the night and be on the lookout for an announced date for our next social this Spring.
Faculty Mason Posner and Soren Brauner with Ken Kearney (Bio '05),
Mack Taylor (Geo '15) and Jennifer Bjelac (Bio '15). That's Tyler McFarland (Bio '18)
and Rod Michael in the background. 
Becky and Perry Corbin with Alison Biro (Tox '15)
Marie Southerland (Bioch '12), Paul Hyman,
Meghan Reese (Bio '16) and Dolly Crawford

Chanel Bluntschly (Bio/EVS '17) with Patty Saunders and friend

Steve Zody (Geo '86) with Ken Kearney (Bio '05)

Monday, December 17, 2018

How do I find an internship?

The holiday break is a perfect time to search for summer internships.  One of the benefits of pursuing a career in science is that many of these internships are paid.  How do you search for these opportunities?  Here are some suggestions:
Summer Research
on Lake Erie

Another option for getting summer lab and field experience is to take a summer field course, which often also includes research experience.  Check out options at Stone Research Laboratory on Lake Erie for both classes and for paid research internships.

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!