Monday, November 29, 2010

Toxicology major wins national award from Pfizer

Toxicology major Phillip Wages
Phillip Wages, a senior toxicology major at Ashland University, has just received one of only five national student travel awards from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to present his research on the toxic effects of pesticides and herbicides at the 2011 meeting of the Society of Toxicology in Washington D.C.

The Pfizer Undergraduate Student Travel Award will provide funding for Phillip's travel, housing and registration at the meeting, and provides the opportunity to interact with Pfizer scientists at an award ceremony.  Phillip will also be paired with a Pfizer scientist as a mentor during the meeting.

Phillip has been involved in multiple undergraduate research projects while a toxicology major at Ashland University, including a National Science Foundation-funded summer research internship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and National Institutes of Health-funded research on zebrafish development at Ashland University.  At the SOT meeting Phillip will be presenting data from his honors thesis work using larval zebrafish to test the toxicity of common pesticides and herbicides.  Phillip designed this project to take advantage of the zebrafish as a new model system for toxicological studies.  After graduating this Spring Phillip plans to pursue a PhD in Toxicology.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Summer research internship in bioenergy

The University of Nebraska in Lincoln has a new NSF funded research program in bioenergy, the use of biological material such as algae to produce energy.  The program provides a $4,635 stipend for students to conduct research from June 6th to August 10th in a number of research areas, including:
. . . the study of non-food crops for biomass production, metabolic engineering of oilseed biosynthesis, green algae as liquid biofuel production systems, microbial carbon sequestration, biochemical pathways of lignocellulose conversion, and system engineering of microorganisms for biomass conversion.
Applications can be submitted as early as December 8th, with a final deadline of March 1st.  You can find more information here.  This is a great opportunity to develop research skills, as well as learn about a growing area in biotechnology.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doctoral program in computational biology

Are you interested in integrating math and computer sciences with the study of biology, chemistry or neuroscience?  Then check out the Computational Biology Doctoral Program at New York University.  This program provides research training in bioinformatics/genomics, biomolecular modeling, and computational neurobiology and physiology that prepares students for careers in academia and private industry.

Along with your doctoral research and coursework there are opportunities for research internships.  All students accepted into this program are guaranteed a stipend and free tuition for five years.

Contact the program's director Dr. Michael Shelley at NYU for more information, or go to their webpage.  Deadline dates for application vary depending on the specific department you apply to, but most are in mid-December for the Fall 2011 semester.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Summer 2011 Research Opportunities

The Department of Energy Scholars Program offers summer internships with stipends of up to $650 per week depending on academic status to undergraduates, graduate students and post graduates at accredited institutes of higher education. Majors accepted include: engineering; physical sciences; environmental sciences; computer science and information technology; physics; program management; math; statistics; safety and health; accounting and finance; law; and other related discipline areas. The deadline for applications is Jan 31, 2011.

Requirements include: U.S. Citizenship; 18 years of age or older; and a cumulative GPA of 2.90/4.00. For more information:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Scholarship Program

This scholarship program supports students interested in pursuing the basic science and technology innovations that can be applied to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mission. The program is available to undergraduate students who are US citizens. Other details:

* Funding available for fall 2011
* Full tuition and monthly stipends
* Includes 10-week summer internships at federal research facilities or DHS Centers of Excellence
* Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

Complete information is available online at

Questions regarding the DHS Scholarship Program can be sent via e-mail to

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ashland Alum Pursues Successful Medical Practice in Endocrinology

Dr. Brian Burtch is one of many Ashland alums who has successfully gone on to practice medicine. Brian graduated from Ashland University in 1998 with majors in biology and chemistry, and obtained his M.D. from the Medical College of Ohio in 2002. He completed his internship/residency in Internal Medicine at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Medical Center, and from 2005-2007 completed fellowship training in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Medical Center

Since 2007, Dr. Burtch has practiced as an Endocrinologist in the Cleveland area at Your Diabetes Endocrine Nutrition Group, Inc. He works with patients who have diabetes, thyroid disorders, and various other hormonal problems, and also conducts clinical research on new medications. He is active in the community and has developed and volunteers regularly at a free diabetes clinic held at the Lake County Free Clinic. Medical students and nurse practitioner students do rotations in his group’s office, and Brian is active speaking in the community about different topics in endocrinology.

Brian comments that "the friendly environment and personal touch that AU science professors gave me have helped me to excel in my medical career. I left AU with a real sense of accomplishment and respect for the science courses/professors that taught and mentored me."

For more information on Ashland’s pre-professional programs in the sciences, check out our website and video at If you have questions about our programs, please contact Dr. Mason Posner, Chair of Biology/Toxicology, or Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, Chair of Chemistry/Geology/Physics.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Biology major awarded competitive research grant

Congratulations to Wendy Dria (AU'11), a biology major working with Dr. Andrew Greene. Wendy has been awarded a $500 research grant by the Beta Beta Beta Research Foundation. This competition is open to students who are active members of Beta Beta Beta Biological Society and doing research. Wendy says that she "would encourage students to do (this). Applying for this grant was not only a great opportunity, but it also provides experience for graduate school and future careers."

Wendy's project is titled "Confirmation of circadian rhythms in protein expression in Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus nidulans." Wendy explains that "circadian rhythms are daily oscillations in behaviors such as spore formation in fungi. These rhythms can free-run in the absence of temporal cues with approximately 24-hr periods, and they are controlled internally by protein-based oscillators. Circadian rhythms have been extensively studied in the fungus Neurospora crassa, and in N. crassa, whose rhythms are dependent on the FREQUENCY protein. Aspergillus sp. exhibit circadian rhythms in spore development and gene expression, however, no detectable ortholog of the FREQUENCY protein exists in the sequenced genomes of Aspergillus sp."

Wendy, Andrew Greene, and Dr. Becky Corbin, Dept. of Chemistry, "have previously identified fluctuating proteins using 2D gels and MALDI analysis." That work was supported by a grant from the Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program. Now, their "main focus is to confirm the cycling of these proteins and identify if they are oscillator components." The funding from this grant will be used to purchase supplies needed to do this. "Confirmation of expression levels will be accomplished by examining transcript levels by real-time PCR, or by non-radioactive Northern blotting. Confirming these oscillations will allow us to identify interesting genes to knock out so that we can determine function in generating circadian rhythms. Once these proteins in Aspergillus are identified we will be able to address further how circadian clocks evolved in the fungal kingdom."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Biochemistry Major Explores New Treatments for Microbial Pathogens in Summer Research Internship

Marie Southerland, a junior Biochemistry major, spent her summer conducting research in an internship program at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Marie writes that this “was definitely a great learning experience for me. I was nervous at first but everyone in the lab that I worked in and also the coordinators of the program were always there if I needed anything. I was able to work on my project alongside my mentor’s Ph.D. student who gave me great insight into what it is like to be in grad school. The project that I worked on was titled ‘An analysis of the bacteriophage E79tv-2 in conjunction with current antibiotics to treat Pseudomonas aeruginosa’. Everyday I was in the lab working on this project and I learned more and more each day! By the end of my internship I was surprised to realize that I was totally working on my own! I never imagined that I would be comfortable enough in a lab to not have someone looking over my shoulder to make sure I was doing everything right. I think that small boost of confidence has definitely come with me back to Ashland where I feel much more comfortable in class labs now. I was also able to attend many lectures and workshops on different topics including bioinformatics, chemical safety, radiation safety, and many others. In addition to those workshops, I got to network with professionals and I was able to meet some great people. Overall, my experience in the program was great and I would recommend it to anyone!”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Biology Major Benefits From Summer Research Internship

While 13 science majors stayed on campus this summer to experience full-time research, many AU students take advantage of off-campus internships. Katie Huff (AU'11) is a Biology major (and a member of AU's chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the biology honorary) who spent the summer at OSU’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island near Put-In-Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio. Katie was an REU student at Stone Lab (NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates), so she took a class (Introduction to Ecology) and did research with a faculty advisor, Dr. Thomas P. Simon. “I learned about this opportunity through the Science News Blog...(along with) several other opportunities... I was lucky enough to have a great professor, Dr. Mason Posner, who advised me to try to find an internship...Through conducting more research on the possible places I could apply, I found that Stone Laboratory sounded like it would fit me the best.”

Katie’s research project was about “about the distribution of crayfish around the Bass Islands of Lake Erie. We sampled many different sites around North Bass, Middle Bass, South Bass, Gibraltar, and several of the smaller Bass Islands, as well as some of the mainland rivers to determine which species of crayfish were where. The last distribution studies in the area were done in the 1960s and have not been updated since...My advisor is a former EPA employee and has over 100 published research papers, not only about crayfish but about fish as well...We wanted to look at whether any distributions have changed or if they had remained the same...I learned the importance of taking detailed information about each of the sites,...time management and patience (during field work),... of planning ahead before going to different sites... (for example) we had to take a boat to each of the islands so times had to be arranged for the drivers to take us to certain places. Communication was key throughout the whole research project.”

Katie lists a few more benefits of her summer research experience. “This experience not only helped me to learn valuable research techniques, it helped me with my public speaking as well. Each week we met with a group of people, including a new guest speaker and the director of Stone Lab. During these meetings we would have to give a brief synopsis of the research that we were participating in. At the end of our time at Stone Lab, we also had to present our findings in a 15 minute presentation to all of the students, faculty, and staff of the lab... presenting something that I was very knowledgeable about helped me to become a little more at ease in front of my peers. I will also be writing a research paper to go along with my findings and will be trying to get it published...”

Time to look for summer research opportunities

Biology major Charlie Davis at the
research bench in summer of 2010
As we approach the first anniversary of this blog, it is a good reminder that now is the perfect time to start looking for summer research internships.  Research is an important part of any undergraduate science experience, no matter if you are interested in graduate school, professional schools in medicine or other health areas, or just want a job when you graduate from AU.  And we started this blog a year ago in large part to help students find these opportunities.

Many Universities get National Science Foundation funding to support summer undergraduate research.  You can find a listing of these opportunities here.  You can also click on the "summer research internships" tag link to the right to see all previous listings from last year.  Most of these programs will continue this year, so these old posts are still very helpful.  These programs pay you to conduct research and provide free room and board.  Why not get paid to learn and ad to your resume?  You can read stories about our students who did summer research right here on this blog.

We will also be posting new opportunities in the coming weeks, so check back to this blog often.  You can also register to receive email alerts to new posts to the right, or follow us on twitter.

Most summer research programs have application deadlines in February.  That makes the holiday break a good time to complete and submit applications before the spring semester begins.  You will typically need one or two letters of recommendation, so talk with professors to line those up before the holiday break.

And as always, talk to your faculty advisor if you need help or have questions.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Science scholarship students attend technology entrepreneurship event

Pictured from left to right: Anna Falls, Meredith Liedtke, Alecia Myatt,
Jessica Dunkle, Tyler van Horn, Nader Shihada, Dr. Steve Fenster,
Jared Baisden, Josh Allman and Zach Weilnau
Nine students in Ashland University's Choose Ohio First science scholarship program recently served as mentors for Northeast Ohio high school students learning about science and technology entrepreneurship in the region.  Our students and the scholarship program's faculty director, Dr. Steven Fenster, heard presentations by industry leaders, including John Dearborn, the President of Jumpstart, an entrepreneurship support organization.

The goal of Ashland University's Scholarship of Entrepreneurial Engagement program is to educate Ohio's high school students about the importance of entrepreneurial thinking, and to engage them with the State's growing science and technology industry.  Our scholarship students led groups of high school attendees through brainstorming sessions to develop potential science-based innovations that incorporated the many ideas presented by area entrepreneurs.

We are currently taking applications for our incoming class of Choose Ohio First scholars.  This is a $4500 additional scholarship on top of other awards available from Ashland University, and supports students majoring in biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, environmental science and toxicology.  You can find information about the program and application materials on our COF website.