Kenyon’s partnership with Pelotonia extends beyond serving as the finish line for thousands of bicyclists raising money to put the brakes on cancer. It also places Kenyon students in Ohio State University laboratories, where they conduct cancer research alongside faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.
“It’s a win for Pelotonia, a win for OSU, and a win for Kenyon,” said Maureen Tobin, graduate school and pre-professional advisor in Kenyon’s Career Development Office. “It gives our students a chance to participate in a different kind of research.”
For Rachel Maas ’17, a chemistry major from Hubbard, Ohio, the experience she is gaining in the OSU lab is steering her toward a career in public health. Maas, one of the six Kenyon students receiving a $3,500 stipend to participate in the program, is investigating the psychosocial risk factors associated with tobacco use. She analyzed and collected data, sometimes visiting retailers with licenses to sell tobacco. “The application of statistics to science was really interesting to me,” she said.
According to Tobin, the students’ work includes basic laboratory studies, translational research, clinical trials and epidemiological studies. The students receive a list of investigations underway at the university and rate ones they’d like to work on.
Olivia Legan ’17, a psychology major from Los Angeles, examined the effect of household income and other demographic factors on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine compliance, which can prevent cervical cancer. “I thought I was going to be a clinical psychologist,” said Legan, who is now inclined to pursue a career in public health.
The program gave Mason McCool ’17 a sneak peek into graduate school. “It was great to get lab experience away from Kenyon and to see what it was like to work day-to-day with other grad students,” said McCool, a chemistry major from Bridgman, Michigan, who plans graduate study in chemistry or biochemistry.
In addition to their research, the students attended workshops and meetings, and took tours of the science facilities. They capped the 10-week program by presenting their research to an audience including Michael Caligiuri, CEO of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, commonly known as the James.
This marks the fifth year of Kenyon’s partnership with Pelotonia, which has raised more than $120 million for cancer research since its founding in 2008. “There is no downside to this,” Tobin said. “We’d like to keep it going as long as we can.”
This year’s student researchers are:
Santiago Acero ’18, Molecular biology; Mansfield, Ohio
Research focus: Heart Rate Variability in Breast Cancer Survivors: The Role of Chemotherapy Regimen and Dose
Christina Ennis ’18, Neuroscience; Morristown, New Jersey
Research focus: Fibroblast PTNE Deletion Decreases Hydraulic Permeability in a Microfluidic Tumor Stroma Model
Rachel Mass ’17, Chemistry; Hubbard, Ohio
Research focus: Psychosocial Risk Factors Associated With Use of Novel and Traditional Tobacco Products
Mason McCool ’17, Chemistry; Bridgman, Michigan
Research focus: Postprandial Hyperglycemia-Mediated Impairments in Vascular Endothelial Function
Jiayu Chen ’17, Molecular biology; Changsha, China
Research focus: The Role of Cyclin A2 in DNA Damage Response
Olivia Legan ’17, Psychology; Los Angeles
Research focus: Associations Between Household Income and Parental Awareness Knowledge, and Child Uptake and Completion of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine