Wednesday, March 5, 2014

High-school student works with Professor Muna

In our department, it isn’t uncommon to find students researching with faculty - but they usually aren’t high school students. Bridget VerVaet is a senior at Marian High School and has been working with Professor Muna since Fall 2012. Their collaboration started when Bridget needed a mentor for her high school research class.  She often comes to IU two or three times a week and is now working on their second project.  Here’s what Bridget has to say about their research:

“My goal was to find the conditions for the optimal separation of steroid hormones, specifically four estrogen compounds commonly found as contaminants in the environment. When estrogen compounds enter the environment, they can have very negative effects of wildlife. Most notably, feminization of fish populations can occur, as has been observed with the population of small mouth bass in the St. Joseph River. For this reason, efficient detection is important for possible later prevention of these contaminants. This year, I have worked with Dr. Muna on coupling the HPLC method to electrochemical analysis. Electrochemical analysis is a more sensitive means of detection and can better detect the minute amounts of estrogen compounds in real samples from the St. Joseph River.”

Bridget will enroll in IU Bloomington this Fall.  She has long considered a career as a veterinarian, but more recently has been eyeing a doctorate in physical therapy.  However, Bridget realizes that as an incoming college freshman she has plenty of time to explore different subjects and think about her future and she wants to explore all of her options. Her interest in science (biology, in particular) began at an early age and we are very pleased that IU South Bend could encourage and cultivate her interest.  We wish you success as you finish your project with Dr. Muna and the best of luck as you begin (officially) your college career downstate.