Four undergraduate students will be conducting research this summer or during the next school year with support from Undergraduate Faculty Grants, a new program from the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee. This program addresses an oft-stated unmet need: just a small amount of funding for supplies can make a big difference in supporting research in primarily undergraduate institutions. Each of these four investigators will receive $500.
David Blake at Fort Lewis College, a Native American-serving but nontribal institution, has an ongoing project to determine the mechanism of action by which derivatives of caffeic acid lead to cell death in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. He and seven undergraduate chemistry students have synthesized six distinct caffeic acid derivatives that are being tested in cell culture by three independent study students. They have data that three of these have a bacteriostatic effect against a common honey bee pathogen. His summer work with Noah Lowen will identify how these compounds lead to cell death and possibly identify whether DNA or proteins are the targets of the cytotoxic derivatives. Fluorescent compounds purchased with grant funds will be used to investigate whether these compounds induce oxidative stress.
Michael Borland will use the funds to support the junior-year research project of Taylor Runkle, a student at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, who has career aspirations related to biomedical science. Specifically, the funds will aid in the purchase of cell culture supplies, ligands, and luminescent assays to reactive oxygen species. She will be conducting cell proliferation and clonal expansion studies, gene expression analyses, and examine receptor- and ligand-dependent changes in response to ultraviolet radiation as a source of reactive oxygen species. This is a component of the study of a previously characterized isosteric selenium derivative of the PPRβ/δ agonist GW501516 and its effects on cell growth, transcriptional regulation, and oxidative stress in human malignant melanoma.
At the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Greg Landry will use the funds for an apoptosis detection kit and cell culture supplies to support Harleigh Becotte, an undergraduate student extremely interested in toxicological research. Renal cell injury is a risk factor for calcium oxalate (CaOX) crystallization and kidney crystal deposition, which can induce proximal tubule cell damage. In addition, Pb2+ that accumulates in proximal tubules can also cause nephrotoxicity. The combinatory effects of Pb2+ and CaOx have not been studied. The experience will include training in primary cell culture, aseptic technique, and flow cytometry using primary human proximal tubule epithelial cells to assess renal toxicity as well as studies with Drosophila melanogaster, a model in investigating mechanisms of Pb2+ -induced calcium disruption.
Carin Thomas has a research group of four to five students at Central Washington College investigating the adverse effects of phthalates in two mouse liver cell lines. These differ in their production of glutathione, providing the opportunity for students to investigate questions about oxidative stress involved with chemical insult. They have shown that phthalates decrease cellular ATP production and may impact mitochondrial function. Her students will continue the investigation of ROS production by phthalates in two cell lines and measure cytotoxicity. Kaitlyn Dykstra will use the WST-8 assay to conduct a dose-response curve for cytotoxicity. With these grant funds Dr. Thomas will purchase media, cell culture flasks, and gloves for these investigations.
The announcement of the 2018-19 deadline for this program will be made later this year.