Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Biology Alumna Publishes Research

Alumna Sarah McCormick Herlihy (Biology/Toxicology ’08) continues work on her Ph.D. in Biology at Texas A&M University.  The focus of her research is to elucidate a branched signal transduction pathway of a protein secreted by the social ameoba Dictyostelium. The ligand for the pathway slows to proliferation of cells allowing them to develop into fruiting bodies (containing spores) and therefore increasing survival.  It also causes chemorepulsion of cells (they move away from high concentrations of the protein). A paper on her work has just been published in PLOS ONE In a second paper recently published in the Journal of Immunology,  she identified a human protein (with structural similarity to the Dictyostelium ligand) which repels human and mouse neutrophils.  Sarah’s work has potential therapeutic applications to the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.  When neutrophils enter the lungs following smoke inhalation (one of the major causes of ARDS), lung damage can be increased.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ashland Biology major working this summer at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Rising senior biology major Mallory Balmert will be spending this summer educating the public about wildlife as an Education Assistant at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  This paid position in the zoo's Education Department will give Mallory valuable experience that will help her achieve her career goal to work in zoological science.

Internship opportunities like this are important for students interested in working at zoos and aquaria.  Check back at the end of the summer to hear about Mallory's experience.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Science Graduate Honored as Valedictorian

Jared Baisden (Biology and Biochemistry, '13) was
honored as co-valedictorian at Spring Commencement
Jared Baisden was one of three graduates honored at the Spring Commencement as Valedictorian.  Baisden achieved a perfect 4.00 grade point average while earning a double major in Biology and Biochemistry.  Jared was a Choose Ohio First Scholar and vice president of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society.  He was one of two AU students to receive a national scholarship from the American Chemical Society.  He completed an Honors capstone project under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer on the isolation and characterization of a chemical compound produced by wilting red maple (Acer rubrum L.) that is toxic to horses.  Jared has been accepted into the Ph.D.program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at the University of NorthCarolina.  He plans to continue to pursue a research career in biochemistry.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Geology alumna defends thesis

Jennifer Tully ('11) analyzing sediment samples by Transmission Electron Microscopy
Geology and Integrated Science alumna Jennifer (Miller) Tully (‘11) has successfully defended her thesis for a Master’s degree in Geology from Miami University of Ohio.  Her thesis research involved an investigation of heavy metal pollution in sediment of the Great Miami River.  Jennifer is moving on to an internship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water, located in Cincinnati.  This internship program is administered by the Oak Ridge institute for Science and Education (ORISE). Congratulations, Jennifer!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Biology major starting summer research internship in San Diego

Junior Nikki Kimmet (Biology) will be heading out to the west coast this summer to conduct 8 weeks of research at the University of California at San Diego in the Department of Pharmacology's SURF program.  Her project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will involve the purification and crystallization of a newly discovered cytochrome P450 enzyme.  This protein family is involved in helping eliminate toxins from the body and also interacts with many of the pharmaceutical drugs taken by humans.  By helping to characterize this protein Nikki will further the understanding of how drugs affect the body.  Fewer than eight students are accepted into this program each year.

Nikki is one of a number of AU science students conducting research this summer.  Check back over the following weeks to find out where they are going.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Honors project focuses on flame retardants

Dr. Weidenhamer, Megan Liggett, and Dr. Mohney
Senior Biochemistry major Megan Liggett conducted her Honors Capstone Research with Dr. Brian Mohney, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, Trustees’ Professor of Chemistry.  Their research involved the development of a method for the measurement of flame retardants in environmental samples.  Flame retardants have been added to many items including computers, plastics, and fabrics.  Accumulation of these compounds in the environment may lead to bioaccumulation in the human body and potential adverse health effects.  Megan used silicone tubing microextraction and HPLC to extract, concentrate, separate, and quantify halogenated flame retardants.  This project provides a new analytical approach to understanding the environmental and public health issues resulting from the widespread exposure to these compounds.  In addition to a successful honors thesis defense, Megan presented this research at the national ACS Meeting in New Orleans.  Her future plans include graduate study and a career in public health.

Ashland science students present honors research and head off to graduate school

Two senior science majors gave successful defenses of their honors thesis research this past week and will both be starting PhD programs in the Fall.

Lindsey Knapp and Steve Fenster
Senior Biology major Lindsey Knapp conducted her research project with cell biologist Steve Fenster to develop the zebrafish as a model species for examining the function of an important brain protein called piccolo.  Lindsey discovered that this protein, which is involved in human mood disorders, comes in various forms in the zebrafish where it likely plays similar roles as in humans.  Lindsey also conducted summer research projects at Johns Hopkins University and UC Berkeley.  She will be entering the Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology program at Emory University this Fall to begin work on her PhD.  Lindsey is a College of Arts and Sciences Scholar.

Jeff Weidenhamer, Jared Baisden
and Robert Bergosh
Senior Biochemistry/Biology double major Jared Baisden's research with chemists Jeff Weidenhamer and Robert Bergosh characterized a toxin in wilted red maple leaves that damages the red blood cells of horses when the leaves are ingested.  This work required the development of novel purification methods and numerous instrumental methods to discover the structure of the toxin.  Jared will be pursuing his PhD in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Jared is a Choose Ohio First Scholar at AU and recently received a national scholarship from the American Chemical Society.