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K Science Majors Present at Undergraduate Research Conference

Scientific presenters at the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference included (l-r): Carline Dugue, Josh Abbott, Amanda Bolles, Mara Livezey, Kelly Bresnahan, and Chelsea Wallace. Not pictured are Erran Briggs, Michael Hicks, Nicolas Sweda, and Associate Professors of Chemistry Laura Lowe Furge and Regina Stevens-Truss.

Nine Kalamazoo College science majors and two chemistry department faculty members (Regina Stevens-Truss and Laura Lowe Furge) attended the recent West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference in Grand Rapids. The students were Carline Dugue ’12, Chelsea Wallace ’13, Nicholas Sweda ’12, Mara Livezey ’13, Michael Hicks ’12, Kelly Bresnahan ’12, Josh Abbott ’12, Amanda Bolles ’14, and Erran Briggs ’14. Hicks and Wallace are biology majors; the others are majoring in chemistry. They presented results of their summer and academic year research experiences, including Senior Individualized Project work for Dugue, Bresnahan, Sweda, and Abbott. More than 170 posters from colleges across West Michigan were part of the conference’s poster session, and some 400 people participated in the conference. Dugue’s research focused on semiconductor quantum dots and charge transfer; she worked with Western Michigan University professor Sherine Obare. Abbott’s work focused on the role of a specific liver enzyme (CYP2B6) in the way the body processes the cancer drug cyclophosphamide. He did this work in the lab of Professor Paul Hollenberg at the University of Michigan. Bresnahan completed her SIP at the University of Michigan laboratory of Professor James Woods. She worked on animal models for testing of molecules called cholinergic receptor agonists for aid in smoking cessation studies. The other six posters described research done at Kalamazoo College. Sweda presented ongoing studies from Professor Stevens-Truss’s lab on suramin selective inhibition of nitric oxide synthases, part of a chain of events that affects production of nitric oxide in the human body. An excess of nitric oxide is associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This work is the basis of a manuscript in preparation with Sweda and Alyssa McNamara ’11 as co-authors. Wallace’s research (with Associate Professor of Biology Blaine Moore) showed that BCL-2 is able to rescue neuroblastoma cells from ethanol toxicity. Livezey, Hicks, Bolles, and Briggs each presented individual posters with results of three projects from Professor Furge’s lab on the interactions of inhibitors with human cytochrome P450 enzymes. These enzymes metabolize compounds, including medicines, in the liver, and the inhibition of those enzymes may influence the effectiveness of current and new medicines. The work presented by Bolles and Briggs is currently being prepared in a manuscript for publication with both students as co-authors along with Livezey. The posters presented by Hicks and Livezey are the basis of a current NIH grant renewal to support ongoing opportunities for student research in the Furge lab. In addition to the poster sessions, students attended several lectures and were able to meet with graduate school recruiters.

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