Monday, October 22, 2012

Science scholarship students attend technology entrepreneurship event

On September 29th, members of Ashland University's Choose Ohio First (COF) scholarship program attended the Northeast Ohio Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Forum at Hudson High School. Our students and the scholarship program's faculty director, Dr. Steven Fenster, were on hand to represent Ashland University and heard presentations by academic and industry leaders. Speakers included: Dr. Luis Prorenza, the president of Akron University; Dr. Vinny Gupta, a member of the Ohio Board of Regents; Dr. Brian Davis, Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Akron University, and Dr. Katrina Cornish, Endowed Chair in Bio-based Emergent Material at Ohio State University. The goal of the Forum is to educate students about the importance of entrepreneurial thinking, and to engage them with the State's growing science and technology industry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Microbiology professor edits a new book on bacteriophages

Dr. Paul Hyman, Assistant Professor of Biology/Toxicology, has edited Bacteriophages in Health and Disease with Dr. Stephen T. Abedon of the Ohio State University.  This book has just been published by CAB International.  The various chapters, including two chapters co-authored by Dr. Hyman, review the state-of-the-art in the role of bacteriophages in disease development and development of new therapies.

Bacteriophages, a type of virus that only infects bacterial cells, are typically thought to have no effect on human health since they cannot infect human cells. But they do have important roles in the evolution of new pathogens by carrying genetic material between bacterial cells.  There is also growing evidence that some bacteriophages have evolved mechanisms to avoid the human immune system so that they can attack bacteria that are part of the normal human microbiome – the collection of microbes that are found on and in a healthy person – thus altering the composition of the microbiome in ways that can also affect a person’s health.

In addition, the book contains chapters describing how bacteriophages are used in a variety of technologies for the discovery of new drugs and vaccines as well as the detection and identification of pathogenic bacteria.  Some of these are being marketed today including two anti-inflammatory drugs.  The final chapters review the long history and current study of bacteriophages as antibacterial drugs.  In some countries bacteriophage have been used for over 80 years to treat intestinal infections and wound infections among others.  This use of bacteriophages is designated phage therapy.  With the increasing levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria being seen around the world, phage therapy is seeing a resurgence in interest with dozens of treatments undergoing clinical trial.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New COF Students Welcomed to Campus

On September 9th, members of Ashland University's Choose Ohio First (COF) scholarship program and other students and faculty gathered to hear talks from fellow Ashland students about their summer research and internship experiences.  Students talked about research conducted as far away as Berkeley, California (Lindsey Knapp), research performed right here in Ashland (Jared Baisden, Carly Young, Mary Brown, and Zack Haley), an internship experience at MetroHealth in Akron (Daiva Gerbec), or volunteer service at health clinics in Tanzania (Gina Laginya).  This year we welcomed 7 new students to the COF program including Maria Bon, Krista Lewis, Winifred Johnson, Tricia Martin, Kayla Prokopakis, Kylee Ziegler, and Dane Zunich.  Currently, we have 24 COF scholars (pictured above) majoring in Biochemistry, Biology, Environmental Science, or Toxicology.   The COF scholarships support students planning to pursue careers in the medical, agricultural, environmental, or related fields, either through continued education in graduate schools, health related professional schools or through direct employment in industry after completion of their degree.  The COF program at Ashland University is funded by the Ohio Board of Regents and directed by Dr. Steven Fenster.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Students and Faculty First to Use Newly Renovated Field Station at Dayspring Preserve

New-and-improved field station
Over the weekend, TriBeta, biology honorary, hosted the annual faculty/student camping trip to Dayspring Environmental Preserve.

This was the first use of the newly renovated field station and access bridge, both of which have been enormously improved over 2011-2012 due to a generous grant from the Schooler Family Foundation.  Additional improvements were funded by Ashland University and LG Electronics.

In 2004, Dr. Lewis Smith (AU'50) and his wife Ardeth (Kline, AU'52) donated 50 acres of land in Coshocton County for use as an Ashland University environmental preserve.

This property is located in an unglaciated area of Ohio, and thus contains different habitats and geological formations than are found in the other Ashland University preserves. Features include mature deciduous forest and a deep ravine with a healthy stream that flows across much of the property.  For additional pictures of the renovation, see the Ashland University Sciences facebook page (Camping at Dayspring photo album).

The view into the kitchen from the dining/meeting room.
Looking out toward the renovated bridge from the dining/meeting room.

Research Experience for Undergraduates in Warm-Water Ecology

The National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program has allowed many of our students to participate in great experiences doing real research jobs (for real $$) and getting professional development training.  There is a huge variety of programs offered all over the U.S. and at international sites. For those inclined toward field biology, this one run by groups at Auburn University interested in warm-water ecology might be of interest.  This group also hosts a Facebook page.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Environmental Lecture Series on The Ecology of Urban Living

The 21st Ashland University Environmental Lecture Series kicked off on Sept. 20 with a discussion of urban streams by Dr. Anne Jefferson, Assistant Professor of Geology, Kent State University. Our theme this year is "The Ecology of Urban Living."  

Dr. Jefferson's presentation was titled "The Science of Streams in the City" and can be viewed here.

This year's series continues Thursday, Oct. 11 with a presentation by by Dr. Parwinder Grewal, Director of the Center for Urban Development and the Environment at OSU-OARDC. He will be discussing "Urban Agriculture, Food Security, and Ecological Footprint of Cities."  [7:30 pm, HCSC Auditorium] 

Dr. Grewal will focus on the potential value and hurdles in developing sustainable urban agricultural enterprises. Daily needs of cities for food, water, energy, and other materials are met almost exclusively through importation of goods from distant places, often across continents. Urban agriculture offers a comprehensive framework for local self-reliance and resilience and a means to reducing the ecological footprint of cities. Interest in urban agriculture has escalated recently due to the accumulation of vacant land particularly in post-industrial U.S. cities and motivation to address food insecurity and childhood obesity issues in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. Urban agriculture can revitalize affected neighborhoods and cities by generating new employment opportunities, increasing access to healthy food and sustaining cities by  forming closed-loop ecological systems with vacant spaces, waste water and solid waste as potential resources. 

Extension. Dr. Grewal’s basic research has  made important contributions to the mitigation of insect pests in both agricultural and urban settings.  Grewal created the interdisciplinary Urban Landscape Ecology Program,  which brings together scientists from a wide range of disciplines to address challenges to urban landscapes and ecosystems.

The Environmental Lecture Series is supported by the Ashland University Environmental Science Program and a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation.  All lectures are free and open to the public.