Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Biochemistry major designing drug delivery devices

Over the next few weeks we will profile some of the students participating in our summer undergraduate research program.  Each will be explaining their research in their own words.  First is Zach Il'Giovine, a rising senior Biochemistry major and varsity soccer player.

"One limiting factor in medicine today is the inability of certain drugs to be successfully delivered to different parts of the body. As biodegradable polymers are developed as a means of drug transport, certain challenges have been met that require novel solutions. Many pharmaceuticals are not soluble in water, making it difficult to implement them in the body. The development of a drug-delivery molecule with both water loving and water hating portions will make the system readily compatible with the water-based human body. It has been my undertaking to couple a water-hating (hydrophobic) polylactide chain with a water-loving (hydrophilic) block of polyethylene glycol. Over the course of the summer, I have been making and analyzing these molecules, as well as exploring different reactions to identify the most efficient pathway." 
- Zach Il'Giovine

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ashland Science Summer Research Program kicks off

The Ashland Science Summer Research Program had its official start with our first afternoon social.  We have 13 students and 10 faculty members conducting research this summer supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Merck/AAAS foundation and the Scholl Foundation.  Our students were able to meet and a learn a little bit more about each other this past Friday during a game of Science Bingo:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Physics Grad Honored

May 2010 graduate and AU swimmer Sean McGraw has been named a first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America. McGraw is part of the 2010 men’s at-large team. The team was selected by sports information directors from around the country. Sean graduated with majors in Physics and Mathematics, and has also received a $7,500 scholarship for postgraduate study from the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee. Sean has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in physics at Ohio University, and has been awarded a teaching assistantship. Sean is one of many athletes who have successfully combined science majors and participation in varsity athletics at Ashland University. Other 2010 graduates who were student athletes include Nick Bellanco and Katie Moga.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ashland students present research at national meetings

Several of our undergraduate students were recently on the road at national science conferences giving presentations on their research projects.  Toxicology major Jackie Skiba and Biology major Amy Drossman have been working with Dr. Mason Posner to better understand the function of an eye lens protein that prevents cataracts, one of the leading causes of blindness in humans.  In May Jackie and Amy presented this work at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  They are currently continuing their study as paid research assistants in Dr. Posner's lab, and will be co-authors on a science paper announcing their results later this summer.

Biology alum Amy Breslin '09 recently attended the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego, California with her faculty mentor Dr. Andrew Greene to present her independent research on bacterial contamination in honey.  Amy says that:
"as a direct result of my poster presentation, I was able to interact with and make connections with several experts within the world of microbiology, such as members of the FDA, CDC, and St Jude Research Hospital. It was an EXCELLENT experience, and I am very grateful to Dr Greene for helping me to achieve so much as an Undergraduate."
Amy's research was funded by a student fellowship from the ASM, and she credits her research at Ashland for helping her secure her current position in the Microbiology Lab at Sherwin-Williams.  Amy also writes a science blog on diseases and global health.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

AU Research Supports Recall

Analyses conducted by AU Chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer were cited in a New York Times article about the recall of 12 million Shrek-themed glasses by McDonald's on Friday. Dr. Weidenhamer was assisted by AU senior Jennifer Miller, who is working with him this summer to characterize the hazards of inexpensive jewelry items containing high levels of cadmium. This research, which has prompted three recalls of jewelry for cadmium contamination, is supported by a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation.

Analysis of the paint on two of the Shrek glasses showed that the soluble cadmium content exceeded 750 ppm. This is more than ten times the limit for paint on children's toys, but there are not currently any standards which apply to products such as these glasses. Cadmium bioaccumulates throughout one's lifetime and the primary risk of chronic exposure is kidney damage. Recent evidence also supports a role for trace levels of cadmium in the development of some breast cancers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Biology Student to Start Summer Research Internship

Biology major Rachael Glover (AU'11) is about to start a ten-week research internship at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, OH. She will be mentored by a professor in the Entomology Department.

The OARDC Research Internship Program (ORIP) includes hands-on experience with on-going research projects as well as professional development and education opportunities like group discussions, seminars on current research by leading scientists, and research symposia. Students will also gain experience with formal presentation of their research project. Several other AU undergraduates have benefited from this program in previous summers.