Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ashland Toxicology and Environmental Science major receives national grant

Cassie Nix, a senior dual-majoring in Toxicology and Environmental Science, recently received a $350 research grant from the Tri-Beta National Biological Honors Society. Under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Trimble, Cassie is examining the toxicity of Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), a highly poisonous invasive plant in Ohio that can become incorporated into hay and other livestock feed as well as compost piles. This plant contains very potent toxins that could potentially poison livestock, pets, or anyone handling contaminated compost.

“This species thrives in warm weather and is invading ditches, pastures and lawns,” Trimble said. “They are spreading more every year and, with that, there is increased potential for them to be harvested with hay or mixed with compost.” “Cassie is growing these plants in the greenhouse and developing new ways to extract and analyze the toxins they contain.”

 Trimble said this research will help determine how concerned farmers and homeowners should be with these invasive poisonous plants. “She is taking samples from dried and composted material and analyzing them to see how much of the toxin remains,” he said. Cassie has presented her current findings at an Ohio Valley Chapter meeting of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry at Miami University in Oxford and was recently selected to receive a national scholarship from the American Chemistry Society.

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