Questing MindsGAMBIER, Ohio (July 16, 2012)
Summer at Kenyon is about fireflies twinkling at dusk, and insights flashing in the lab. Those flashes ignite in the minds of the Summer Science Scholars-students who stay on campus to pursue advanced research projects under the guidance of their professors.
Acid resistance in E. coli. Quantum entanglement. Primordial magnetic fields. Caffeine and cognition. The projects embrace challenging questions in biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as anthropology and psychology.
This year, thirty-one students were chosen for Summer Science. A fellowship award of $3,500 (plus free housing and funds for materials) supports them as they take their projects from the planning stage, through experimentation, to the preparation of results for presentation or publication. Typically, a number of Kenyon students will publish their work, as co-authors, in professional journals.
The summer program immerses them in active, real-life science, where long hours in the lab can yield frustration and fresh questions on the way to discovery. Camaraderie is part of the equation, too. The students socialize, with one another and their faculty mentors. And every week there's a barbecue called "Bologna Loaf" (it's a Calvin and Hobbes reference, not a menu item).
The projects entail studies at the cutting edge of research. For example, Myles Alderman III, a rising junior from West Hartford, Connecticut, is working with Associate Professor of Biology Wade Powell on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The goal is a vital one: to unravel the biochemical mechanisms through which the highly toxic pollutant dioxin harms vertebrates, ranging from fish and birds to most mammals, including humans.
Powell and his Kenyon students have approached the problem by investigating an animal that, intriguingly, is not sensitive to dioxin: the frog. "There's a key protein which makes most animals sensitive to dioxin, the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor," says Powell. "Dioxin binds to this receptor, and it's this interaction that triggers everything downstream that leads to toxicity. Our focus is on how this protein is different in frogs."
Alderman has been involved in a particularly intricate aspect of the research-genetically modifying frog embryos and then treating them with dioxin in order to study the biochemical response. In the process, he has become the College's resident expert on some sophisticated experimental techniques. "It's the kind of thing that grad students do in other labs," says Powell.
Alderman is very much in his element. "Kenyon," he says, "lets me do what I love. I love research, and the facilities here are amazing."
See the complete list of 2012 Summer Science projects:
Myra Eckenhoff, Class of 2013, of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, "Assessing Osteoware as a New and Technologically Advanced Method of Skeletal Inventory and Diagnosis."
Hannah Smith, Class of 2013, of Mount Gilead, Ohio, "Methods of Identifying Starch Remains in Dental Calculus as a Means of Determining Diet of Ancient Humans."
Myles Alderman III, Class of 2014, of West Hartford, Connecticut, "Determining the Function of Xenopus laevis Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptors 1a &1ß via Morpholino Knockdown."
Andie Asimes, Class of 2013, of North Royalton, Ohio, "Effects of Intermittent Developmental Hypoxia on Brain Morphology in Chickens."
Kiersten Bell, Class of 2013, of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, "Photoperiodic Regulation of Sexual Reproduction in Physcomitrella patens PpCOL triple mutants."
Mark Harden, Class of 2014, of Charlotte, North Carolina, "The Function of the cys Regulon in Escherichia coli Acid Resistance."
Katherine Lang, Class of 2014, of Denver, Colorado, "The Photoperiod Response Pathway in Physcomitrella patens."
Maria Narvaez, Class of 2014, of Boca Raton, Florida, "The Effects of Genes (ompR, gadC, rpoS, and cfa) on Anaerobic Extreme Acid Survival in Escherichia coli."
Claire O'Connell, Class of 2013, of Peculiar, Missouri, "The Effects of a Changing Climate on Oceanodroma leucorhoa Reproductive Success."
Emily Rose, Class of 2014, of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, "The Anatomy, Physiology, and Immunoreactivity of the Cells of the Enteric Nervous System of Larval Manduca sexta."
Allen Sanderlin, Class of 2015, of Dublin, Ohio, "The Relationship between Midgut Growth and Morphology and Body Size in the Tobacco Hornworm, Manduca sexta."
Justin Taft, Class of 2013, of Long Island City, New York, "The Effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzon-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 6-formylindolo [3,2-b] carbazole (FICZ) on Xenopus laevis Metamorphosis."
Anna Yie, Class of 2014, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, "Investigation of the Effect of Anoxic Conditions and Variable pH on Hydrogen Production in Planktonic and Biofilm Escherichia coli."
Snow Adler, Class of 2013, of Weston, Ohio, "Development of a Novel Synthesis of Natural Products Containing the Cyclopenta[c]pyridine Substructure."
James Chapman, Class of 2013, of Sandusky, Ohio, "Second Harmonic Characterization of ZnCdSe Thin Films."
Andrew Gipson, Class of 2013, of Wadsworth, Ohio, "Analysis of the Role of MMSDH in Lipid Storage Reserve Accumulation by GC-MS and LC-MS."
Sally Steuterman, Class of 2014, of Saint Louis, Missouri, "Exploring Quantum Entanglement."
Scott Watters, Class of 2014, of Chicago, Illinois, "Kinetics Studies of a Putative ß-Hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA Hydrolase from A. thaliana."
Daniel Glaser, Class of 2013, of Pacific Palisades, California, "Minority Labeling and Dual Identity."
Jesse Goldfarb, Class of 2013, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, "Implicit Associations Between Racial Stereotypes and Type of Crime Committed."
Karen Huntsman, Class of 2013, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, "The Effect of a Caffeine Placebo on State Dependent Learning of Two Cognitive Tasks in Human Subjects."
Bronte Kastenberg, Class of 2014, of Haddonfield, New Jersey, "On Bleaching and Culture: the Truth about a White-washed World."
Daniel Rosenberg, Class of 2013, of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, "The Effects of Phonology of Language on Empathy."
Olivia Siulagi, Class of 2014, of Portland, Oregon, "Sexuality and Being Sexy."
Melek Yildiz Spinel, Class of 2013, "Ethnic and Gender Representation in Spanish Media in the U.S."
Julia Tidona, Class of 2014, of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, "The Impact of Mood on Mental Processing Speed."
Hillary Child, Class of 2013, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, "Lattice Simulations of Cosmological Scalar Fields."
Tate Deskins, Class of 2013, of Austin, Texas, "Lattice Simulations of Electroweak Symmetry Breaking."
Alexander New, Class of 2014, of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, "The Origin of Primordial Magnetic Fields."
Luke Skon, Class of 2013, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, "Relativistic Astrophysics."
Henry Smith, Class of 2013, of Amawalk, New York, "Biacnhi Metrics and Type 1a Supernova Redshift."