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Bethany students, staff receive funding to continue research

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Six Bethany College students and three faculty members received funding recently through the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, Bethany Professor of Biology John T. Burns reports.

Burns serves as the College's NASA WV Space Grant Representative.

Receiving NASA Faculty Research Enhancement Awards for collaborative research with Bethany College students were Jennifer Franko, assistant professor of biology; Carolyn Kitchens, assistant professor of chemistry; and Scott Brothers, assistant professor of chemistry.

Franko is researching the effect of Triclosan exposure on T-cell activation, while Kitchens' research is on determining the presence of the CaMV 35-S promoter in USDA approved organic and non-organic soybeans. Brothers' research is on the synthesis and characterization of single- and multi-walled nanotubes from basic carbon feedstocks.

Students receiving scholarships include Chemistry major Alexander DelGiorno of Wadsworth, Ohio, who will continue his research with Kitchens on a spectroscopic analysis of meat proteins in varying pH and temperature conditions.

"Food that is served buffet-style is often incorrectly reheated," DelGiorno said. "And USDA guidelines may be too ambiguous, so I'm looking into whether the food should be checked more frequently or should be reheated at different temperatures."

Incorrect reheating could lead to food having less nutritional value, or could cause the consumer to get sick, he said. While he's not sure yet what he will do with his finished research, the process has already helped him academically: DelGiorno received a biomedical internship, and the research he's done gave him an advantage in the interview process as well as in the lab.

Biology major Amber Lancaster, Weirton, is mentored by Amanda Stewart, associate professor of biology and director of equine studies, on a project investigating the relationship between diet-induced insulin resistance and sporadic AD pathology in Drosophila melanogaster. Lancaster will feed fruit flies either sugar or yeast, determining the effect carbohydrates and sugars have, as well as how certain diets could lead to Type 2 diabetes. After graduating, Lancaster plans to study respiratory therapy, and said this research will give her an advantage while applying to graduate schools.

The remaining scholarship recipients include chemistry and mathematics major Jacob Fischer of Huntington, W.Va., who is working with Kitchens on determining low-level concentrations of compounds by using conducting polymers; chemistry major Samuel Duvall, Shadyside, Ohio, who is working with Brothers on capillary electrophoresis; chemistry major Morgan Jacobs, Hurricane, investigating with Kitchens the synthesis of algal biodiesel from different colored algae; and chemistry major Kristen Sroka, Elizabeth, Pa., who is mentored on her project on Omega 3s in seafood: potential for depression treatment by Lisa M. Reilly, Goulding-Woolery professor in chemistry, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the department of physical science and mathematics.

The WVSGC funding was matched by Bethany College to provide a total of $12,000 for the faculty research and $22,000 for the student scholarships. The WVSGC is a NASA-sponsored organization dedicated to building research infrastructure and promoting science, technology, engineering and math research in West Virginia.