Friday, December 23, 2011

Biology major heading off to physician assistant school

We are entering an exciting time of year as our students start hearing about acceptances into health professional schools and graduate schools.  Our earliest news is about Biology senior Charlie Davis ('12), who recently heard that he has been accepted into the physician assistant program at the University of Mount Union.  Charlie says that:

I feel that the biology and chemistry professors were instrumental in my academic preparation and admission into graduate school. I am grateful for my time here at AU and I look forward to continuing my education in Mount Union's Physician Assistant graduate program. 
Charlie is now our second student in two years to head off to PA school.  Check back over the next few months to read more news about our upcoming graduates.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forensic biology major receives award to travel to national science conference

Lynette Vana, a Junior majoring in Biology with a concentration in Forensic Biology, has received an Undergraduate Travel Award from the Society of Toxicology to attend their 2012 national meeting in San Francisco.  Lynette was one of 36 recipients in the nation, and the second Ashland University student in the past three years to gain this recognition.  This award will cover all of her expenses to attend one of the most significant meetings in the field of toxicology, along with special programming to help undergraduate students develop careers in this diverse science field.

Lynette spent last summer in a research internship at WIL Research Laboratories in Ashland, Ohio, and is currently conducting independent research with biology professor Mason Posner.  She is planning a career in federal law enforcement as a forensic scientist.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Q & A with Savannah Frank, AU Biology Alumna and Quality Engineer at MillerCoors

Biology graduate Savannah Frank recently answered some of our questions about her career path since graduating in 2009. We plan to post similar stories about other science alumni in the future, so keep checking back.

Describe your experiences while a student of the science program here at Ashland University.

My experience while in the science program was extremely intriguing and hands-on. I credit this to the small class size and passionate professors and faculty that placed a great deal of emphasis on interaction with their students. The wide variety of course options only increased my love for the sciences and really helped me gain a broad yet in depth knowledge of the scientific world. While at Ashland, I developed longstanding relationships with my fellow classmates as well as professors that I still keep in touch with.

What is your present occupation? What types of things do you do in your work? What interesting projects or significant achievements have you been part of?

I work for MillerCoors as a Quality Engineer in the Trenton, Ohio brewery. Our laboratory is split up into two different work groups, Product Release and Fermentation. Both work groups utilize analytical as well as microbiological skill sets and knowledge. We test from the beginning of the process as the raw materials come into the plant, all the way through the finished product in the bottle or can. While working in the Quality Department, we support a brewing projects as far as new recipes, new malt, new hops and so on. By far, the most interesting part of my position is being a Certified Taste Tester. The beer is tasted at four points throughout the brewing process and each individual tank is tasted before we release it to consumers. I also just completed a certification course and am now a Certified Brewer, and represented our department at the industry-wide conference in Minneapolis.

What role did your education at AU play in your seeking out your current occupation?

My education at AU was extremely diversified in terms of the subjects studied. During the interview process at MillerCoors, my interviewers were impressed at how well our Biology and Chemistry Departments worked together and utilized one another.

What advice do you have for current AU science majors?

Take advantage of classes that provide exposure to analytical instrumentation such as HPLCs, Gas Chromatography, pH meters, spectrophotometry, etc. Along with an arsenal of microbiological knowledge, having these combined skill sets is a definite crowd pleaser with hiring departments. Also take advantage of research opportunities with the great faculty at AU. These types of projects really help to hone in on your independent work skills that will benefit you in the long run.

What career advice can you give to future graduates of the AU science program?

Firstly, NETWORK! I got my first laboratory position before graduation because I was simply talking about my education while sitting in a restaurant. It really helps to talk to people about what your career and life goals are. Secondly, prepare for interviews. My advice is to sit down and actually write out your responses to the most common interview questions. Know your weaknesses and strengths, be able to explain some difficult situations you have been and how you've handled it. I felt that when I would go over my interview questions the night before, I would communicate more freely and not be stumbling for words because I already knew what I wanted to say. The interviewer has your resume in front of them (most likely), you don't want to just repeat what they already know. Have stories fresh in your brain so that you keep their attention, making it more of a conversation rather than an interrogation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Summer Medical Dental Education Program

Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) is a FREE (full tuition, housing, and meals) six-week summer academic enrichment program that offers freshman and sophomore college students intensive and personalized medical and dental school preparation. SMDEP is implemented at 12 program sites across the nation. Program sites vary on how they deliver each of these required components and when the programs begin. Applicants are encouraged to review program site information before completing application.
Program offerings include Academic enrichment in the basic sciences (organic chemistry, physics, biology) and pre-calculus/calculus, Career development, Learning-skills seminar, Limited clinical exposure and a Financial-planning workshop.
Please see program website for more information including eligibility requirements and application.
Deadline to submit application is March 1, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The holidays are for finding summer research internships

AU research students in summer of 2010, many of whom are in research jobs,  graduate school, or pursuing health careers.
With finals around the corner it may be hard to think about plans for the holidays, but the next month will be a great time to find summer research internships.  These positions will pay you and provide room and board to conduct research at locations all around the country, offering important experiences for future job searching, or admission to graduate school and professional schools like medical and physical therapy school.  Last summer five AU students conducted research off-campus, with another thirteen working in Kettering Science Center labs.

We are adding information on various summer research positions to this blog all the time.  You can find them by clicking on the Summer Research Internships topics link to the right.  This link will also bring up stories on students that have done summer research in the past, like Lynette Vana and Brandon Barnes, who both worked at WIL Research Laboratories last summer.  Or Lindsey Knapp, who performed research in brain development in Washington DC, or Gina Laginya, who not only did research in neonatal medicine at Metro Health in Cleveland in the Chester Scholars Program, but got to shadow doctors and help care for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.  And Marie Southerland spent a second summer at Marshall University doing research into cystic fibrosis.

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.  Check back with this blog for updates and check out the listing of National Science Foundation funded programs across the country.

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2012 Summer Internships for Undergraduate Students

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sponsors a 10-week summer internship program (May -August 2012) for rising juniors and seniors majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM) disciplines. The DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program provides students with the opportunity to conduct research in DHS mission-relevant research areas at federal research facilities located across the country.

The goal of this program is to engage a diverse, educated, and skilled pool of scientists and engineers in HS-STEM issues and to promote long-term relationships between student researchers, the DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, and federal research facilities to enhance the HS-STEM workforce.

Please see program website for additional details including Stipend, Application & Selection Process, Participation, Logistics and Eligibility. Application deadline is January 5, 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Environmental Science Director presents research on lake ecology

On Friday, Nov. 18, Dr. Patricia Saunders, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Ashland University Environmental Science Program, presented a talk at Cleveland State University titled "How big zooplankton cope with life in a small lake."  Her audience was students and faculty of the CSU Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences. The presentation discussed a series of field projects completed over several years in collaboration with a number of AU biology and environmental science undergraduates. This work has established that some types of zooplankton are avoiding their predators by "hiding" during the day, and returning to the open-water areas of the lake at night. The site studied is a small, plant-rich kettle lake. Better survival of zooplankton is linked to improved water clarity in this and other lakes.  The trade-offs associated with such an energy-intensive response to predators are one focus of on-going studies.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ashland chemists publish research from international collaboration

Chemistry faculty members Dr. Brian Mohney and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer have collaborated with a group of German scientists at the Free University of Berlin on a study showing that natural herbicides released by plant roots are transported by fungal hyphae in the soil. The research used a technique developed by Dr. Mohney and Dr. Weidenhamer and their students to monitor the movement of chemical compounds exuded by marigold roots. AU Alum Tricia Matz ’10 assisted with some of the laboratory analyses for this project. The paper, titled “The Fungal Fast Lane: Common Mycorrhizal Networks Extend Bioactive Zones of Allelochemicals in Soils”, has been published in the online journal PLoS One. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic fungi that help plant roots take up nutrients and water, and this is the first study showing that these compounds can move through the network of fungal hyphae in the soil and expand the zone of biological inhibition that these natural herbicides cause. This previously unrecognized phenomenon may be important in allowing exotic plant species which produce natural herbicidal compounds to invade new habitats.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Collegiate Leaders in Environmental Health (CLEH) Summer Internship Opportunity

CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) are offering a 10-week (June 13-August 17, 2012) summer internship program for students who are passionate about the environment, interested in human health, and curious about how they are linked. During the course of the internship students are introduced to environmental health at the federal level through collaborative projects, experiential learning opportunities, individual environmental health presentations, journal clubs, field trips, brown bag lunches, and shadowing and mentoring relationships at CDC/ATSDR. Interns will be based at CDC/ATSDR’s Chamblee Campus and will be paid a stipend of approximately $600 a week during the course of the program.
Eligibility requirements include US citizenship or Permanent Resident with a green card, Fulltime enrollment at a college or university as a rising junior or rising senior by fall 2012, and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Application deadline is February 1, 2012. Visit program website for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Neurobiology professor publishes new research paper

Dr. Cate Fenster, a visiting assistant professor of biology/toxicology, was the leading author on an article recently published in Brain Research Bulletin, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal. The article, entitled "Acute neuregulin-1 signaling influences AMPA receptor mediated responses in cultured cerebellar granule neurons", summarized a collaborative study conducted at the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Contributing authors on the paper include NIH senior investigator, Dr. Andres Buonanno, and Dr. Detloff Vullhorst, also of the NIH.

 Neuregulin-1 is a growth factor important for normal brain development and function. Alterations in the gene that encodes for neuregulin-1 are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Recent studies show that neuregulin-1 regulates the function of specific brain circuits that are abnormal in individuals with schizophrenia. Cate's work has implications for understanding how neuregulin-1 affects the function of these brain circuits and how these circuits become altered in schizophrenia.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Summer Research Opportunity at MetroHealth

The Edward M. Chester, MD Summer Scholars Program awards 15 collegiate undergraduate students the opportunity to spend ten weeks over the summer (June 1-August 3, 2012) in clinical laboratory research settings at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Established in 1981, the Chester Summer Scholars Program is an opportunity for pre-medicine and scientifically-oriented students to explore the potential for a career in medical research or academic medicine. This innovative program has become nationally recognized with students from more than 40 colleges and universities across the United States having participated.
Scholars are assigned to a MetroHealth medical staff researcher who has developed the project on which the scholar will work and who will supervise the progress of the scholar's learning experience.
Scholars spend the better part of each weekday participating directly in the research project activity. There are also opportunities for observation of surgery, hospital rounds, and other experiences at MetroHealth that are an integral part of the program. At the end of the ten-week experience, the scholars are required to prepare a project report for presentation.
Each recipient will receive a stipend award of $2,500. Supplies and equipment are provided by MetroHealth Medical Center. Parking is provided for the ten weeks.
To apply, you must be an Ohio resident or attend an Ohio college or university and must have completed the second year of undergraduate education in premedical or scientific studies.
Deadline to submit application is February 17, 2012. For details on the program and how to submit application, please see the program website.

Internship and Research Opportunities

The Science Education Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory provide paid opportunities for undergraduates, grad students, recent graduates, and faculty to participate in high-quality research alongside world-class scientists to solve real-world problems. Opportunities are available for internships and co-ops, research appointments, and sabbaticals. All opportunities are limited to scientific, technical, engineering, or mathematical fields. Individuals who choose an internship or research opportunity at ORNL are paired with world-class scientists to solve real-world problems. See the program website to view all available research opportunities.

Biochemistry major benefits from summer internship

This time of year is the right time to be looking for internship positions for next summer, and we will continue to highlight opportunities for students in postings on this blog. Brandon Barnes, a junior Biochemistry major, gained valuable experience at WIL Research Laboratories in Ashland last summer working on neurotoxicology studies. Brandon’s internship dealt with drug discrimination testing in rats. Brandon writes,

“The Drug Discrimination program used controlled substances so I witnessed central nervous system behaviors that may not have been seen elsewhere. While I wasn't testing, I helped biologists with other tasks and eventually took care of multiple rooms in a single day. After a month, the internship felt like a real job and sometimes I forgot it was even an internship. The internship was very demanding for the work load was heavy and deadlines had to be met. The work at will familiarized me with documentation and the paperwork side of biology as well as the methods. At WIL, I saw many different methods of testing and dosing procedures that I would have not seen without the internship. The knowledge and experience that I gained from this internship was incredible.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

ACS Nuclear & Radiochemistry Undergraduate Summer Schools

The Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is sponsoring two INTENSIVE six-week summer schools (June 10, 2012 through July 20, 2012) in Nuclear and Radiochemistry for undergraduates. Funding is provided by the US Department of Energy.

The course will consist of lectures on the fundamentals of nuclear science, radiochemistry, and their applications in related fields. In addition to the formal instruction, the course will include a Guest Lecture Series and tours of nearby research centers at universities and National Laboratories. Students will meet and interact with prominent research scientists from universities and DOE national labs who are working in nuclear and radiochemistry, nuclear medicine, nuclear forensics, and related fields.

Fellowships include a stipend of $4,000, all tuition and fees, transportation to and from the summer school location, housing, books, laboratory supplies and transferable college credit.

Candidates should be undergraduates with an interest in nuclear science who are presently in their sophomore or junior year of study. They should have completed at least two years of chemistry, one year of physics and one year of calculus. Applicants must be US citizens.
Deadline for completed applications is February 12, 2012. Each summer school is limited to 12 students. Online application forms are available at:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Environmental science grad has a new blog

Karie Charlton (EVS/Biology '11) recently began working as an environmental educator with the Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  You can now follow her adventures on Karie's new blog, Tales from the Trails, where she is posting beautiful photos and descriptions of the life she finds in our National Park just south of Cleveland, Ohio.

While at Ashland University Karie took her first blogging steps in our senior capstone course, where students practice their skills communicating science to the public.  This past year one of our environmental science courses used a new blog to share current news and research.  Blogging has become a valuable way to engage the public with science, and it is exciting to see some of our alumni taking part.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SCI Scholars-Industrial Internships for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Undergraduates

Exceptional sophomores and juniors majoring in chemistry and chemical engineering can apply for a prestigious 10-week internship through the SCI Scholars Program. SCI Scholars are selected based on the strength of their application, statement of interest in an industrial internship, and letters of recommendation. Twenty-nine scholars will be chosen for internship positions in the summer 2012.

The program is a joint effort of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) America International Group, the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and was developed to introduce chemistry and chemical engineering students to careers in the chemical industry.

SCI Scholars receive $6,000-$10,000 for a ten-week internship. The deadline to submit all application materials is December 16, 2011. See the program website for more information.

Department of Energy Scholars Program 2012

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; business; policy; program management; mathematics; statistics; safety and health; accounting and finance; law; communications; and other related discipline areas. Visit the program website for more information. Deadline to apply is November 15, 2011.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Science Graduates Have Many Options

A recent study by researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce indicates that graduates with a bachelor’s degree in one of the sciences have many career options and that such a degree can command high salaries. In highlighting this study, an October 20th article in the Chronicle of Higher Education points out that the authors of the report found that “sixty-five percent of students earning bachelor's degrees in science or engineering fields earn more than master's-degree holders in nonscience fields do” and “47 percent of bachelor's-degree holders in science fields earn more than do those holding doctorates in other fields.” In addition to high salary potential, the report finds that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates have career options that go well beyond traditional careers in the laboratory. A New York Times blog post about this study notes that “professions that depend heavily on skills learned in [STEM] fields are the second-fastest growing occupational group in the United States, after health care. While traditional fields like computer engineering and laboratory research make up about 5 percent of the work force, demand for science, technology, engineering and math skills is spreading far beyond, to occupations in manufacturing, utilities, transportation and mining, as well as to sales and management.”

The College of Public Health Prospective Student Information Session

The College of Public Health at the Ohio State University invites you to an information session to learn more about pursuing a graduate degree in public health. This session will include topics such as; financial aid, careers in public health, the admission process and a current student panel. This session will be held on Friday, November 4, 2011 from 9:00-11:45 am in Room 180 Cunz Hall, in the College of Public Health, 1841 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio.

The College of Public Health currently offers four graduate degree programs: Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Specializations include: Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior and Health Promotion, Health Services Management and Policy, and Veterinary Public Health.

Please RSVP and include "November 4-Information Session" in the subject line at: by Monday, October 31st. You will receive a confirmation email once registration has been completed.

Congratulations to Professor Tawse!

We are excited to announce that Merrill Tawse, Professional Instructor of Biology, has been awarded the 2011 Conservationist Award by the Richland County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Professor Tawse was recognized for his many years of work monitoring native bat populations for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ohio and other states, studies on native salamanders and over 30 years in outdoor education at the Gorman Nature Center near Mansfield, Ohio.  Professor Tawse developed the human cadaver-based anatomy and physiology course that is part of the curriculum for Ashland University's new nursing degree, and also teaches courses in ecology and environmental science.  He can sometimes be seen flying bats for his students in the Kettering Science Center.

This is the second year in a row that Ashland University has been recognized by the Richland Conservation District.  Last year the University's Environmental Science Program was honored for conservation and education efforts at its Blackfork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Summer Research in Polymer Science

The University of Akron College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is again offering a competitive summer research experience for undergraduate (REU) students. Students will participate in a 12-week summer internship to investigate a fundamental question within the broad disciplines of polymer science and polymer engineering including chemistry, physics, characterization, and biomaterials. Stipends for this 12-week summer program are $7,000. The application deadline is February 1st. See the program website for further information.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Geology alum pursues graduate degree

Jennifer Miller Tully ’11 (left, with Dr. Michael Hudson and fellow geology alum Amanda Kozak '08)entered the M.S. program in Geology at Miami University this fall. She is pursuing a career in environmental geochemistry, an interest that developed through her undergraduate research on cadmium in children’s jewelry with Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer and on the geochrononology of Adirondack lowland rocks with AU geologist Dr. Michael Hudson. Jennifer is serving as a teaching assistant for two geology courses in addition to taking coursework of her own. More than 90% of our geology graduates successfully enroll in graduate school with financial support through teaching or research assistantships.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chemistry Major interns with Lubrizol Corporation

Chemistry major Julie Arko completed a second summer as an intern with Lubrizol Corporation of Wickliffe, OH. Lubrizol manufactures specialty chemicals for the transportation, industrial and consumer markets. Recent grants from Lubrizol Corporation have supported AU's Environmental Lecture Series.

Julie writes, "My experience the past two summers interning for the Lubrizol Corporation have been extremely beneficial. I have been able to take many things I’ve learned in my chemistry courses at Ashland University and apply them to an industrial lab setting. I became much more comfortable working in the labs, and it was very interesting to be exposed to many different types of chemistry going on at one time. It was also very beneficial to be surrounded by so many chemists who were more than willing to share their experience and advice with me. This internship was truly invaluable. I was able to fully understand what it like to be a research chemist day in and day out, the demands it requires, and the satisfaction you get out of it. It is definitely an experience I would recommend to anyone interested in chemistry. The education I have received at Ashland University truly prepared me for my internship the past two summers, and I am sure it will continue to benefit me in the future."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Toxicology graduate conducting chemical defense research for US Army

Heather Bensinger pictured on far left during summer research at Ashland University
Our Toxicology graduates go on to diverse careers in medicine, forensics, bioscience research and environmental science, but recent grad Heather Bensinger '11 is the first to work with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense.  Heather is researching how the immune system responds to mustard gas exposure in order to discover new therapeutic drugs.

Heather writes that:
The techniques that I use daily I learned at Ashland University in my Biology and Toxicology coursework, which really helped me to see real-world applications.  Some of the specific classes that I liked and where I learned many techniques were Immunology, Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology.  To someone who is looking to get into the same field, I would stress the importance of hands-on experience and application.  The research I conducted with the professors at Ashland and the internship at WIL Research Laboratories also helped me to gain a thorough understanding and valuable experience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Environmental Science major benefits from summer job with environmental services company

Mary Cargill (AU’12) is an Environmental Science and Biology major who spent the summer of 2011 interning with EnviroScience, a Stow, OH, based company that offers environmental services throughout the US and Canada. She worked for EnviroScience’s lake management division and was able to travel a lot for the job (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Ontario)! Mary is very positive about this experience, saying “[o]verall, it was a very fulfilling internship that demonstrated how to apply all the knowledge I had acquired in the classroom... It's also convinced me to seek an environmental consulting position upon graduation.”

There are lots of opportunities in environmental consulting. Mary reports that this particular company has several departments, including “bioassay (water quality lab), commercial diving, ecological restoration, emergency response team, and lake management group. I worked along side aquatic biologists while assisting the lake management division this summer. I primarily assisted with their 'Milfoil Solution' which consists of using a native beetle (Milfoil Weevil) as a native biological control to control the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM).”

The work Mary did used lots of knowledge and skills from her training at Ashland University. The milfoil weevils were collected and cultivated in the lab, numbers of eggs and larvae were assessed microscopically, and some statistical analyses were needed to assess these cultures. Before treatment was started at each lake site (for example, see photo of reservoir on Menominee River, WI), Mary and her colleagues had to do visual assessments (while scuba diving!) of Eurasian Water Milfoil density and the percentage of milfoil versus native plants. Next, she would “identify the type of milfoil present [there are several species], look for any visible damage to the plants, and also do a native plant survey... Determining the type of milfoil was essential because milfoil weevils only accept EWM and variable water milfoil as hosts...[Plant] transect [samples] would be brought back to the lab and be analyzed for existing weevil damage, eggs, larva and adults to determine whether or not there was a native weevil population.” After all this, seed population size would be recommended, weevils introduced to each site, and follow-up surveys conducted after a couple of months. And (of course!) “after the follow-up survey was completed I would write a final report.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Congratulations Dr. Brauner!

Dr. Soren Brauner, Professor of Biology, was recently recognized for 25 years of service to Ashland University by our President, Fred Finks.  Dr. Brauner joined the Department of Biology/Toxicology in 1986 after earning his BA in environmental science and MA in botany from the University of California at Santa Barbara and his PhD in genetics from the University of California at Davis.  He conducts research with AU students on the population genetics of invasive reed canary grass in the University's Black Fork Wetland Preserve.  Dr. Brauner's lab is currently developing molecular biology techniques for investigating the genetic structure of these grass populations to better understand how they spread in non-native habitats.

In addition to his research and courses in molecular and cellular biology, genetics and botany, Dr. Brauner recently ended a long term as the Director of Ashland University's Environmental Science Program.  He was instrumental in securing significant government and foundation funding for development of our environmental preserves, and planning for our environmental lecture series, which is entering its 20th year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chemistry professor spends summer in Australia

Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, professor of chemistry, was selected for the Fulbright Specialists Program as an agricultural science specialist and spent six weeks this summer hosted by Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia. While in Australia, he presented invited lectures at CSU, in a symposium on root zone interactions at the International Botanical Congress, in a symposium on root-soil interactions hosted by the E.F. Graham Center, and to the Plant Industries group of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Canberra, which is Australia's national science agency. His paper at the International Botanical Congress was co-authored by Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Brian Mohney. While in Australia, Prof. Weidenhamer and his wife BethAnn were able to take in some of Australia’s amazing flora and fauna including humpback whales (above), many birds (kookaburra, below) and the Minnamura rain forest. Earlier in the summer, Dr. Weidenhamer spent 2 weeks in Germany to visit the lab of Dr. Matthias Rillig at the Free University of Berlin and presented an invited lecture. He and Dr. Mohney have collaborated with Dr. Rillig and his postdoctoral researcher Kathryn Barto on studies of the transport of chemicals released by plant roots in soil.

Biochemistry major spends summer at Marshall University

Marie Southerland, a senior biochemistry major, spent a second summer at Marshall University conducting a research internship. She worked in the microbiology lab of Dr. Hongwei Yu and studied the harmful effects of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on patients with cystic fibrosis. Her project focused on a protein called Pil A. She investigated its phenotype and the effect that it has on the production of biofilm as a protection against the host's immune system as well as antibiotics.

Marie writes: “My experience at Marshall these past two summers are absolutely invaluable. I have been able to take the knowledge I have gained in my Ashland classes and apply them in a research setting. I am now more comfortable in lab and I think that comes from being able to see that mistakes are made by everyone and what matters is how you deal with them. I was also able to write and put together my own poster and present it at the West Virginia Summer Research Symposium. Along with that, I got to take my work from last summer and present it at the Ohio Branch American Society of Microbiology meeting with Dr. Greene. An internship is a great way to gain experience in all aspects that come with research and I would recommend that every undergraduate student participate in one! I never thought I would get the opportunity to go somewhere like Marshall but that just goes to show you really never know what will happen until you apply!"

Big Ten+ Graduate School Expo

If you are considering going to graduate school, but not sure exactly what you want to do, this is a good event to consider. The Big Ten+ Graduate School Expo will be held at Purdue University on September 25-26, 2011. A number of AU grads have pursued graduate study at Big Ten schools, including recent grads David Wilcox, Tricia Matz and Daphne Guinn among many others.

Students will:
Get an inside look at graduate school and the application process
Receive advice about funding opportunities
Network with representatives from more than 50 of the nation’s top graduate institutions
Attend a premier graduate school fair

This two day mini-conference is especially designed for students interested in graduate education in:
Other science-related disciplines.

The Big Ten+ Graduate School Expo awarded more than $30,000 in travel scholarships last year. All students, including women and members of underrepresented groups, are encouraged to attend. Visit for more information and to register. The deadline to apply for a travel scholarship is September 7!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Polymer Research continues at AU

During a Spring 2011 study leave and throughout the summer 2011, Dr. Perry Corbin, Associate Professor of Chemistry, continued a collaborative research project with students that is sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Corbin and his students recent research efforts have focused on the synthesis and thermal characterization of four-, six-, and eight- calixarene- and resorcinarene-core star polylactides, as well as the synthesis and characterization of star block copolymers that self-organize into micelles in solution. The polymers being prepared have the potential for use in a variety of biomaterials applications. A manuscript describing recent work is currently under preparation. Three students carried out research with Dr. Corbin over the summer: Anna Falls, a sophomore biochemistry major from Mansfield, Christina Herbst, a junior biochemistry major from Avon Lake, and Mei Li, a senior chemistry major from Shanghai, China.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Students and faculty present ecology research in Austin, TX

AU faculty and students were well-represented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Austin, TX.

Rachael E. Glover (AU'11, photo) presented a paper on results from her 2009-2011 directed research project in the lab of Dr. Patty Saunders. Rachael’s presentation was titled "Assessing the seasonal onset of daily horizontal migration behavior of Daphnia dentifera in Sites Lake, OH."

Rachel E. Day (AU'11) was first author of a poster (presented by Saunders) titled "Rapid assessment method for density of green fluorescent protein-labeled Escherichia coli important to observing small Daphnia" and co-authored by undergraduate Alicia McBride (AU'13) and biology/environmental science faculty member Dr. Andrew Greene. Rachel E. Day also worked on directed research with Saunders during 2009-2011, including two full-time summers funded by an undergraduate research grant from Merck/AAAS. Rachel presented her earlier work at the 2010 ESA meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.

Drs. Brian Mohney and Jeff Weidenhamer were co-authors of another ESA presentation by colleague Dr. Kathryn Barto of Freie Universitaet Berlin. That was titled “The fungal fast lane: Common mycorrhizal networks extend bioactive zones of allelochemicals in soils.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Chemistry Faculty Member

The Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics is growing due to the addition of the new AU College of Nursing. Nursing students take two required semesters of chemistry, and this year we are pleased to welcome Trina Mohney as a professional instructor for the department. Trina Mohney joins the Chemistry faculty after serving several years as an adjunct instructor for our Core courses and in General Chemistry lab. She is a biochemist by training and is an enthusiastic teacher. Trina received her BA in 1991 from Eastern Nazarene University and subsequently earned her M.Ed. in Science Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in the laboratory of Dr. James Gusella, which, among other things, was responsible for locating the gene for Huntington’s disease. At the University of Pittsburgh, she gained further experience in molecular genetics and biochemistry through work on Gaucher’s disease clinical trials.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Environmental Science Majors Awarded Competitive Scholarship

In early August, two of our Environmental Science majors were awarded a 2011 Ohio Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship. Mary Cargill (AU'12, upper photo), an Environmental Science and Biology double major, and Maureen Heacock (AU'12, lower photo) an Environmental Science and Geology double major, were two of 19 recipients in this year's competition. The $2500 awards are made each year by the Ohio EPA, based on recommendations from the Ohio Academy of Science. This merit-based competition is only open to students majoring in environmental science or engineering. Other recent AU recipients include Karie Charlton (AU'11), who is now working full-time at Cuyahoga National Park, Audrey (Taylor) Croskey (AU'07), and Wendy Peyton (AU'07).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New additions to the Biology faculty

The addition of Ashland University's new College of Nursing has helped to fuel growth in our Department of Biology/Toxicology.  Our Department is responsible for teaching two semesters of anatomy and physiology (with cadavers) and one semester of microbiology for nursing students, and over the past year we have added four new faculty and one new staff member to the Department.  Here are some quick bios on our new colleagues, but come back for more detailed information on each later this semester.

Paul Hyman
Assistant Professor
Paul Hyman is a microbiologist that conducts his research on bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria.  By studying how these viruses form and attach to their host bacterial cell Dr. Hyman can help to produce phages that could as an antibiotic agents.  After receiving his BA in biochemistry from Northwestern University and PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Arizona, and spending time working in the biotechnology industry, he taught at the MedCentral College of Nursing prior to their merger with Ashland University.

Merill Tawse
Professional Instructor
Merrill Tawse is a field biologist and one of the State of Ohio's experts on bat ecology.  He also played a foundational role in developing the outdoor education program at the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, Ohio.  When not working with nursing students in our new human cadaver facility, Mr. Tawse can sometimes be seen flying live bats around the halls and classrooms of the Kettering Science Center to teach students about bat biology.  Mr. Tawse developed the human anatomy curriculum for the MedCentral College of Nursing and now begins his second year at Ashland University.  He received his BS from The Ohio State University and MS from the University of Nebraska.

Connie Fellmann
Visiting Assistant Professor
Connie Fellmann is an anthropologist who studies the evolution of primate locomotion, focusing on the interplay between growth, development and biomechanics.  Dr. Fellmann was most recently a post-doctoral fellow at the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy before joining our faculty for this coming year.  She will be teaching our nursing anatomy and physiology course.  Dr. Fellmann received her BA from the University of Iowa, MA from Rutgers University and PhD from New York University.

Cate Fenster
Visiting Assistant Professor
Cate Fenster is a neurobiologist and physiologist studying molecular connections between memory and the immune system, as well as the physiology of nicotine withdrawal.  She brings expertise in the use of rodents for studying brain function, the growth of brain cells in culture and the measurement of physiological activity in individual neurons.  Dr. Fenster received her BS from Furman University and PhD from the University of  Alabama at Birmingham.

Tricia Trimble
Laboratory technician
Tricia Trimble joins the Department as our new laboratory technician.  She has extensive experience in laboratory management and animal care, and will work with laboratory supervisor Matt Mitchell to maintain teaching and research facilities, prepare supplies for teaching laboratories, and help care for our large collection of plants and animals.  Mrs. Trimble earned her BS and MS from Southern Illinois University.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flowers in bloom in the AU native plant garden

The arrival of students back to campus is being welcomed by a beautiful display of flowers in the Kettering Science Center native plant garden.  Enjoy the display.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forensic Biology major spending summer doing toxicology research

Lynette Vana is planning a career as a forensic scientist working in law enforcement.  This summer she is gaining invaluable experience working as a summer research intern at WIL Research Laboratories here in the City of Ashland studying the effects of the plant derivative scopolamine, which is used as an anti-nausea drug, but also abused as a recreational drug.  Lynette writes that she is "being trained exactly the same way as the research biologists who carry out studies at WIL".  After learning how to work with rats as research animals, administering drugs and assessing their behavior, she will continue her project in the research laboratories on the Ashland campus in collaboration with Biology Department faculty.

Lynette writes that her work at WIL Laboratories directly relates to her studies in forensic biology, since "in forensics, human tissue may have to be analyzed for the presence of drugs in cases such as murder investigations".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Biology major doing summer research at Johns Hopkins University

In addition to the thirteen students that have been conducting research with our faculty on the Ashland campus this summer, a number of science students are off at other Universities as part of various National Science Foundation-funded undergraduate research programs.  Lindsey Knapp, a rising Junior Biology major, reports that her research at Johns Hopkins University is going very well, and that she has not only learned lots of new lab techniques, but has gained insights into how science is done.

Lindsey is actually working at the Hopkins-affiliated Carnegie Institution of Washington with Dr. Marnie Halpern, who uses the zebrafish as a model organism to study brain development.  Lindsey has been researching how genes control the asymmetrical development of the habenula, a small region of the brain near the pineal gland.  To do this she has learned not only how to breed and raise larval (baby) zebrafish, but the techniques required to visualize where individual genes are turned on in the body.  She has produced important, new data, and explains that she disproved a published paper's hypothesis about the gene she is studying.  Lindsey writes that:
"I have developed fine motor skills like I never thought possible.  Working with the larva, dissecting them, dissecting adult brains, using microscopes - at first I though I was going to fail, but I caught on pretty quick and now it seems like second nature."
Outside of lab Lindsey has been attending seminars to hear about other scientists' research, as well as sessions on making her own poster presentation, science policy and ethics, and the life of a graduate student (Lindsey would like to get her PhD after graduating from Ashland).
"And the best part is the crepe truck that comes to where I work every Wednesday."
Check this blog for more stories about our students doing research off campus, and for news on next summer's research opportunities.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ashland biology graduates heading to grad school

During this busy summer, two recent biology graduates are making preparations to move on to graduate school, after four great years at AU! Both Rachel Day (photo,left) and Rachael Glover (photo, right) plan to pursue interests in ecology and environmental science. In mid-August, Rachel Day (AU'11) will begin an environmental science master's program at Miami University's Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES, Oxford, OH). In late August, Rachael Glover will begin a biology master of science program at John Carroll University (University Heights, OH). Each has secured a graduate assistantship for support during her graduate program.

Both Rachel and Rachael were involved with directed research projects while at AU, and credit these experiences with helping to guide planning for post-graduation. That work also led to off-campus experiences at a national conference for each. Last summer, Rachel Day attended the annual meeting the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh, PA, to present some of her on-going research results. Next month, Rachael Glover will attend the ESA meeting in Austin, TX, to present results of her research.

In addition to research, for two years both were very active leaders in AU's Xi Mu Chapter of the national biology honorary, Beta Beta Beta. This organization has promotion of undergraduate research as part of its core mission, manifested as student research grants from the national office, and, locally, Student Summer Research Talks and hosting research speakers. AU's Xi Mu Chapter also sponsors several service projects and social events each year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ashland Toxicology promotional video released

We are excited about our new promotional video for the Ashland University Toxicology program, one of only a handful of undergraduate tox programs in the country.  It stars our own aquatic toxicologist Dr. Andy Trimble, recent tox graduate and soon-to-be doctoral student Daphne Guinn, and AU alumna and WIL Research Study Director Dr. Melissa Beck.

The video was produced by AU Digital Media major Spencer Stadnik.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer research at Ashland University

With summer upon us students and faculty are busy making progress on a variety of research programs in the Ashland science departments.  Thirteen students are conducting research in the Kettering Science Building this summer, with most living on campus.  In addition to performing research, students have the opportunity to attend workshops on developing careers in science and giving scientific presentations.  Students will be giving their own presentations on their work towards the end of the summer.  The students in our summer research program are supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Merck Foundation and the Choose Ohio First Scholarship program.

This past Friday we had our first guest research seminar of the summer, hosting Dr. Laura Sirot from the College of Wooster to talk about her work on reproduction in mosquitos, and how this information could be used to reduce the population sizes of these disease-carrying insects.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ashland Biology alumna attending the 61st Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany

Becky Richards speaking at AU in 2010
Becky Richards '04, a combined MD/PhD student at Oregon Health Sciences University, was selected as one of the 570 students out of 20,000 applicants to attend this year's meeting of Nobel laureates in Lindau, Germany.  This annual meeting allows young researchers from around the world to discuss science with 25 Nobel Laureates.  Becky will be blogging about this amazing experience, and has just written her first post.

Having recently submitted the final edits to her doctoral dissertation, Becky will be rejoining the 3rd year of medical school after travels through Europe this summer.

You can learn more about Becky's research in this previous post about her visit to the AU campus in 2010.  And if you would like to follow the Lindau Conference you can follow a special social media page here.  While we are not all fortunate to attend the conference itself, lectures from the Laureates are available online.  The theme of this year's conference is physiology and medicine.