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College News

Science Fellows Conduct Summer Research


Over the summer, 13 St. John Fisher College students continued their studies conducting a variety of research projects, thanks to grants from the School of Arts and Sciences.

The School funded the grants through the 2011 Fisher Undergraduate Summer Science Research Program, which allows undergraduate students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics to engage in an intensive summer research program under the supervision of a faculty member from one of those programs. Students selected as Summer Science Fellows were eligible to receive a summer stipend up to a maximum of $3500 or tuition remission (up to a 3 credit maximum) for the summer 2011 course associated with their summer research activity. In addition, the student projects selected were eligible to receive up to $800 that they could use to purchase project supplies or to fund their attendance at a professional conference this year. Those projects that received funding were selected by the Science Fellow Award Committee, made up of faculty from the School of Arts and Sciences.

The Summer Science Fellows who were chosen included the following Chemistry and Biology students:

-Daniel Caruso's project involved synthesizing organosilicon compounds, which are versatile reagents in the synthesis of organic compounds used for medicine and agriculture. New compounds have potential application as reagents in the synthesis of more complex compounds or as precursors to electronic materials.

-Drew Merkel analyzed the levels of lead in the soil of Rochester neighborhoods. Lead poisoning is an ongoing threat to the health of children, and his research will allow homeowners to understand the level of threat right on their own property.

-Tommy Quinzi studied how mercury accumulates in regional gamefish populations. His research will contribute to understanding the impact of local industry on the environment.

-Tracy Lewandowski synthesized organic compounds that could be used to improve contrast for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which may have biomedical applications.

-Chris Manzella studied the nature of glass-like materials. Various compounds can assume a glass-like state, and determining the properties of these allows for a deeper understanding of the various states of matter.

-Katelyn Giardino studied how fundamental cellular components (cytoskeletal proteins) are used in highly specialized neuronal cells. Her research in the model organism C. elegans will allow for a better understanding of human motor neuron diseases.

-Lindsey Lamphear's project studied how basic cellular components (cytoskeletal proteins) facilitate normal behaviors.

-Stephani Woltz and Ryan McKelvie analyzed the impact of environmental toxins on reproductive ability. Endocrine (hormonal) disruptors threaten the reproductive capacity of all organisms. Her research is focused on the effects of common pesticides on germ cell function in zebrafish (Danio Rerio), a model biological organism.

-Aaron Spacher analyzed the microbial flora of Lake Ontario, with help from the U.S. Coast Guard. His research will allow for an understanding of the efficiency of wastewater treatment and the level of microbial pollution in Lake Ontario.

"Being a Summer Science Fellow was a great experience and allowed me to gain an experience that could not be found within a classroom, while allowing me to apply what I have learned in the classroom," said Aaron Spacher. "I have enjoyed the process so much that I plan on continuing my research. The grant that I received was essential, without it I would have been unable to grow and analyze the bacteria I found. I'm also hoping this experience will help me to be accepted into veterinary school."

Award recipients are expected to submit a report summarizing the results of their summer work to the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and will also be expected to present these results on campus or at a professional conference during this academic year.

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