Monday, September 28, 2015

Toxicology alumnus Phillip Wages presents at prestigious Gordon Conference

The article below was recently written for the Environmental Protection Agency to promote the exciting work being done by one of our toxicology graduates:

Phillip Wages (B.S. Toxicology, ’11) Presents at Prestigious Toxicology Conference

  In August 2015, Phillip Wages, a graduate with honors from Ashland’s toxicology program, presented a talk and poster at the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity in Andover, NH. Wages is a doctoral student in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Curriculum in Toxicology (CiT) program. He is conducting his research under James Samet, a research biologist with EPA’s Environmental Public Health Division in Chapel Hill, NC.
Phil in his Ashland research lab

 The GRC is a highly-selective, specialized conference in mechanistic toxicology that selects only about 150 attendees and speakers from a worldwide pool of applicants. Wages was one of four trainees from his program to present at the conference.

 Wages gave a talk and presented a poster on the topic, “The role of hydrogen peroxide in the oxidative modification of protein targets in human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to 1,2-naphthoquinone.”

 He began moving towards a research career at the intersection of public health and toxicology during his undergraduate studies in toxicology at Ashland. Wages has always been interested in how cells respond to toxins, but it wasn’t until the combined effects of an engaging professor, an interesting research assistantship, and an invitation to a Society of Toxicology meeting that he decided to focus on public health and toxicity. These days, that intersection shows up in Wages’ doctoral research.

 “In the past,” Wages explains, “it has been shown that hydrogen peroxide and other random oxygen species ‘promiscuously’ damage cells. Our research is showing that same result at high levels. We’re hoping to look at how chronic exposure at low doses creates adaptive responses in susceptible populations.” He also is looking generally at how hydrogen peroxide perturbs normal lung function through inflammatory signaling and possible early biomarkers that signify that change.

 Wages research has implications on cytotoxicity and exposure research, as well as on mechanistic asthma research. Because he believes his is the first report to show exposure to an environmentally relevant air pollutant result in protein sulfenylation, Wages was excited to apply to GRC and be invited to share his research there. “This is a smaller conference, and these are the researchers in the field. Anytime trainees get to go there is a great opportunity to network and talk with experts.”

 Wages enjoys the collaboration available to him within the partnership between CiT and EPHD. “It’s been a unique and rewarding opportunity to work with EPA investigators. A lot of my day-to-day is basic science, but it is always put in the context of the ‘big picture.’ It makes the work so much easier because it’s appreciated.” Within that “big picture,” Wages will continue to investigate these research topics and more as he pursues his Ph.D.

His EPA advisor, James Samet, speaks very highly of Wages’ contributions to the EPHD lab, saying, “We are very fortunate that we’ve had a long history of mentoring very bright, energetic students like Phil from the CiT program.”

Published with permission from EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) 
Author: Tess Liebersohn, contracted writer for NHEERL/ORD

Monday, September 21, 2015

OMED 2015 Information

The Ohio Medical Education Day is open to all pre-med students in Ohio who are not currently in the application cycle.  Participants will meet medical school representatives to learn about entering Ohio's medical schools.   Sessions will include:

  • Application and Admissions Preparation and Process
  • Interview Preparation and Process
  • Personal Statement
  • Medical School Panel
  • Meet the Deans Fair

Registration:  $5 per person until November 6, $10 November 7-13, $15 at the door

Date: Saturday, November 14
Time: 1:00 pm to 5:15
This Year's Location:
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Meiling Hall
370 West 9th Avenue, Columbus Ohio, 43210
Parking: all day weekend cost to park in Safe Auto Garage or East Garage on 9th Avenue just across from Meiling is $ 6.50

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Advice about working at a zoo from a recent Ashland biology graduate

A number of our current students and recent graduates have been getting experience as interpreters and in animal care at local zoos and wildlife centers.  Mallory Balmert (Biology '15) sent in this guest post about her experiences over the past few years at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and her current internship at the Toledo Zoo.  Mallory gives great advice for students wanting to work in zoos and writes about her current work with polar bears, wolves and seals.

I’m in the exercise yard with Foster, 
a parma wallaby. These are the smallest, 
most nocturnal species of wallaby.
    This summer, and for the past two summers before that, I was a pirate…well, sometimes. I worked as a seasonal on show staff in the education department at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and we had a pirate-themed show these past few summers. That sounds complicated, but basically, show staff is responsible for taking care of all of the animals in the education department, putting on live animal shows three times a day in two different areas during the summers, doing travelling shows and outreach programs in the off-season (not Memorial Day-Labor Day in the northern zoo world) and training all of the animals for those shows/programs. My official job title was Education Assistant, then it changed to Zoo Interpreter, which neither of those titles gives an accurate description of the actual job, which I’m sure sounds pretty busy right about now. Hands down, I loved my job even though it was hectic a lot of the time. It was great experience learning the principles of animal training through operant conditioning, acquiring public speaking skills, and also learning the basics of animal care and handling. One of the most surprising things was seeing the progression and my comfort-level increase when speaking in front of crowds. I went from being very anxious when giving presentations to being able to speak in front of 200 random zoo guests for 25 minutes while handling live animals throughout the program and (in a different show) putting on a pretty mean pirate voice, if I do say so myself. Talk about improvement. I find myself now actively trying to refrain from talking to guests and offering fun facts when I’m just visiting the zoo (not as an employee).
     I got to work with a lot of amazing animals including (but not limited to) two fennec fox brothers, a 14 foot long Burmese python, a super smart white-necked raven, several feisty parrots, a grumpy but still sweet hooded vulture, and a very loveable white stork. Overall, we had about 65 different species in the education collection spanning three different areas at the zoo including birds, mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles. So you must be thinking now: how did you ever stumble upon a job like this? Well, my sophomore year at AU over fall break, I decided to do a program at CMZ called Keeper for a Day as a birthday present. It is in the education department and you get to shadow a member of show staff for the day, help prep diets, help clean, and make enrichment for the animals. Not to mention all the behind-the-scenes tours since none of the education collection is on exhibit currently. During my day doing this program, I started telling the keeper, Katie, that I wanted to be a keeper, and she told me that they had seasonal positions open, she gave me her email and told me to send her my resume so she could forward it to her boss. Who knew that my birthday present would lead to my first job? The next spring I was coming in for an interview, and the following May I started on show staff and Katie was now my coworker. So fast forward three years to where I’ve been a pirate more times than I can count, been through numerous crazy situations during shows when something unexpected happens and you have to correct on-the-fly, helped train some really awesome behaviors for shows, and made so many great friends at CMZ, and now I am currently starting an internship at the Toledo Zoo. One of the things about this field is that you need lots of experience in lots of different institutions, so here I am, currently in the middle of my second week as in intern in the Arctic Encounter® area of the Toledo Zoo working on polar bear enrichment for our three bears, collecting data on the social interactions of our four grey wolves, and doing seal training for the six seals (2 harbor seals and 4 greys) that call Toledo Zoo home. I can say it’s very different in many aspects from my show staff experience, but I’ve learned a ton already and I really am enjoying the internship so far. There are many opportunities out there that will provide diverse experiences in this field, and I am looking forward to gaining those experiences and seeing what the zoo world can offer, because so far, it’s been a blast.
Me, as a pirate, with our barn owl Tawny