Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Geology Alumna Nears Completion of Graduate Degree

Jennifer Tully ('11) with the TEM at Miami University
 Jennifer (Miller) Tully graduated from Ashland in 2011 with a B.S. in Geology and a B.S.Ed. in Integrated Science Education.  Her undergraduate research with Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer focused on the detection of toxic metals in consumer products.  Jennifer wrote the following about her current experience in graduate school at Miami University.

My second to last semester is coming to a close, as I am getting closer to finishing up my Masters degree in geology.  I spent this past summer collecting and analyzing river sediment samples for my thesis, which has involved examining heavy metal contamination in a stretch of the Great Miami River that flows through Hamilton, Ohio.  After obtaining the bulk chemical data I identified samples of interest and further characterized those samples using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to determine how heavy metals were manifesting themselves in the river sediment.  I was able to identify coal spherules (from coal combustion) and particles of barium, lead and lead chromate (pigment in yellow road paint).  The lead chromate was of particular interest because the Cr in this compound is Cr+6 (carcinogenic) and we found potential evidence for dissolution.  I was then able to present my findings at the Annual Geological Society of America meeting held in Charlotte, NC and chair the session in which I presented.

There is still more work to be completed on this project as ICP-MS data indicated there are large amounts of Cu and Zn present in my samples; however I was unable to find any evidence via SEM.  So, over winter break I will be working with the transmission electron microscope (TEM) and learning how to do scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), which is a technique, I will use to “map” elements on clay particles within my samples.  This may help determine where Cu and Zn are in our samples and we will be able to determine if any other heavy metals are sorbing onto clay particles. 

The first micrograph depicts lead chromate (bright white crystals) embedded in a Si/Ca/organics matrix (darker material), and the second micrograph is of a coal spherule.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ashland biology senior conducts summer research at UC-Berkeley

Lindsey Knapp spent this past summer in California conducting research at UC Berkeley as part of a National Science Foundation funded research program.  Many of our students gain valuable experience in these REU programs, which typically accept applications starting in January or February of each year.  You can search these programs and learn more about applying here.  Lindsey wrote the following about her experience and provides some tips for a successful application:

My summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at University of California-Berkeley was a great experience that provided me with professional development skills, gave me a preview of my future career, and allowed me to network with a variety of biology students and professionals. I worked in David Weisblat’s Lab in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. My project focused on the gene piezo and its role in development and mechanotransduction in the leech Helobdella.

I found this REU on the NSF website along with other NSF funded programs. After applying to many programs, I was accepted into four great programs and chose Berkeley. I was in the Berkeley REU program with 10 other students from around the country and the world. My responsibilities were the same as a graduate student. I was given a project and a mentor who was familiar with the project and techniques needed to pursue it. I implemented experiments independently throughout the summer. At the end of the summer my cohort and I gave presentations on our projects including an introduction to the topic of research, the experiments we ran, and our results 

Throughout the summer there were a variety of professional development workshops on several topics including graduate school applications, science careers, scientific ethics, and public speaking. We also got to meet, interact with, and attend lectures from amazing scientists such as Tyrone Hayes, a world expert on fertilizers’ affect on the endocrine system, and Robert Full, a biophysicist who helped make movies such as “A Bug’s Life” and “Kung Fu Panda”. In addition, we were able to learn about hyenas at the Berkeley field station and go whale watching in the Pacific Ocean. 

This REU prepared me immensely for my future education and career. I am going to pursue a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and go on to work in an industry or government lab. The experience of implementing my own experiments and troubleshooting for my own research project is invaluable. In graduate school I will essentially be working on a project of the same caliber, but with more freedom and independence. The skills I learned this summer will help me succeed in graduate school. Success in graduate school will ultimately help me procure a research focused job. 

During the application process, I would suggest that science majors apply for many different programs. There are hundreds to thousands of qualified applicants applying for each program. Make your application stand out by writing essays with personality and get good letters of recommendation from professors or professionals you have worked with. Be thorough but precise in your application, and do your best.
Lindsey presenting her summer research

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Internship Opportunity for Chemistry Majors

Julie Arko
Following graduation last spring, Julie Arko (ACS Chemistry ’12) began working as a Research Chemist at The Lubrizol Corporation in Wickliffe, Ohio.  She is currently looking for chemistry majors to fill summer intern positions.  Interested students should go to and follow the link to Internships and Co-ops.  Julie's own summer internship experience contributed significantly to securing full-time employment.