Thursday, August 25, 2016

RCMed Review Fellowship Winner Returns

In the Spring, biochemistry major  Alexandra Hochstetler won the RCMed Review Fellowship and chose to research this past Summer at the South Bend campus of the IU School of Medicine  with Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. Margaret Schwarz. Hochstetler spent the summer studying the role of the protein EMAP-II in lung development at the molecular and the cellular levels. A particular project investigated the development of mice which lacked the genes that code for EMAP-II. Hochstetler describes her experience as "awesome" because she got to do "new things everyday". It must have indeed been awesome as Hochstetler will continue to work with Dr. Schwarz during the school year.

Hochstetler is grateful for this opportunity which allowed her to further develop her critical thinking and trouble shooting skills. She also learned to see how the work of individual research teams fits within the big picture of scientific discovery. Hochstetler plans to take a year "off" after college to carry out some more laboratory research, then go to medical school, and finally work in medical research.

Our campus will be accepting applications for next year's RCMed Review Fellowship in the Spring semester. If you are interested in this fellowship or other research opportunities, please contact your favorite biology, chemistry, or biochemistry professor for details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Biology Chemistry Club Welcomes Students

The Biology Chemistry Club welcomed new students this week by helping them make “slime” and blowing off steam launching film cans into the air with Alkaseltzer and water. They also displayed several examples from the biological world with molecular models. The club has plans for science outreach, tie-dyeing lab coats, tours of local industries, guest speakers from academia and industry, informational panels from medical school admissions, and, of course, the traditional end of year geek party. For more information about the club you can check them out on Facebook and their university site.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Research in the Anderson Lab

Niles High School student Madeline Stanton and biochemistry major Victor Gutierrez-Schultz have been working with Professor Gretchen Anderson this summer to correct a mutation in the enzyme, arsenite oxidase. The two genes for the enzyme (one gene for each subunit) were cloned into E. coli by previous IU South Bend students, but along the way, a mutation was introduced in the smaller subunit. Victor analyzed the sequencing data from last year (thanks to 2016 biochemistry graduate Jared LaRue), found the mutation, and used genetic engineering to fix the mutation back to its native nucleotide. Both Madeline and Victor then worked together to confirm that the mutation was indeed fixed, and are now sequencing the two genes to determine if any further mutations were introduced during the fix.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Research in the Muna Lab

David Aupperle is making the transition between his freshman and sophomore year as a chemistry major - and he isn't taking the easy road.  He is spending most of his summer in Professor Muna's laboratory learning and applying electrochemistry.  David's project is to develop a stable palladium modified electrode that offers long term stability and efficiency in catalyzing the electro-oxidation of steroid hormones. The ultimate goal is to employ this electrode for electrochemical detection of steroid hormones in water. 

David is the first student to be awarded the new Carolyn & Lawrence Garber Summer Research Scholarship which provides support for full-time research for one lucky student in the department.  David plans to attend graduate school to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry.  With interests in education, he is uncertain whether to pursue a career in industry or academics - but he has plenty of time to decide.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Research in the Rizk Lab

Biochemistry Professor Shahir Rizk has three students working with him on three separate projects. The first is Pierre-Emmanuel N'Guetta [left photo], an international student from Ivory Coast majoring in biology.  He is continuing a research project that began in the Fall semester with the CHEM-C 486 (biochemistry laboratory) students designing a biosensor for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp . Pierre plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

Next up are Michele Costantino (left) and Riley Bigelow (right) shown in the second photo.  Both students are biochemistry majors funded by SMART grants (student-mentor academic research team).  Michele is working on engineering reversible self-assembly of biological molecules with applications in the design of new nano materials and biosensors. She hopes to continue doing research at the graduate level.

Riley is working on engineering new proteins that can modulate the activity of enzymes with the hope of rescuing a dysfunctional enzyme that is caused by genetic mutations associated with inherited severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). This is a deadly disease with very few treatment options. She will also be investigating whether this technology can be applied to other genetic disorders.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Shahir Presents Work at Protein Symposium

Biochemistry professor Shahir Rizk travelled to Baltimore, Maryland last week to attend the 30th Annual Symposium of the Protein Society.  This is a yearly gathering for protein scientists spanning many disciplines including protein folding, structure, characterization and engineering. It also features the latest technologies and cutting-edge tools for researchers. Rizk presented his poster titled Controlling protein structure and function using engineered allosteric effectors which describes work based on collaborations with Rizk's colleagues from the University of Chicago, Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine.  Rizk has only been at IU South Bend for a year, but has already built a bustling research program with three undergraduate students hard at work this summer.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Internships at IU South Bend

The IU South Bend Foundations magazine for alumni and friends of the university feature two students from our department in an article about internships for their spring/summer 2016 issue.  The photographs above are taken from the Foundations magazine - online issues may be found here: Foundations magazine.  Internships, and also undergraduate research, are valuable opportunities that help students learn more about their subject and get an idea of what working full time in their field might be like. Such experiences also look very impressive on resumes and applications to graduate or medical school.
Carrington Boyd is a senior chemistry major who received internship credit for her work at The Indiana Whiskey Company.  She was introduced to the occasional distillation in the sophomore organic chemistry lecture and lab, but now deals with the process daily. Carrington is quoted in the article as saying "I put into practice the concepts I learned in the classroom to make enough whiskey to meet the demands of our customers." 

Krista Schilling interned at Lebermuth Company during the summer after her junior year. Lebermuth extracts and purifies naturally occurring fragrances, flavors, and essential oils.  Krista remarked "I learned what it really means to be a scientist.  Instead of using some of these instruments once, I was able to use them every day.  My summer internship at Lebermuth taught me what it means to work as a scientist, all day, every day.  I loved it."  Krista graduated with a B.S. Biochemistry degree just this past May.