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.