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Biochemistry students Laura Carvalho, Joel Kleinberg and Mary Yates study various aspects of protein deposits associated with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Students collaborate with professors on summer research projects

Biochemistry students Laura Carvalho, Joel Kleinberg and Mary Yates study various aspects of protein deposits associated with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
June 25, 2013

Several dozen McDaniel students, with support from the college and endowed funds, put summer vacation on hold to remain on campus to conduct research with their professors.

In the Eaton Hall labs, Biochemistry majors Joel Kleinberg and Laura Carvalho are studying different aspects of amyloid fibrils, the denatured protein deposits that are associated with such diseases as Alzheimer’s and type 2 Diabetes and are a research interest of Biochemistry professor Melanie Nilsson.

Carvalho from Silver Spring, Md., is using pig ears to explore two different methods of making slides of amyloid fibril deposits, while Kleinberg from Setauket, N.Y., is investigating whether an insulin-degrading enzyme facilitates or inhibits the formation of the amyloid fibril deposits at insulin injection sites.

With his sights set on medical school, Kleinberg welcomes the opportunity and the experience of doing research.

“And it could help somebody – that’s really possible,” says the senior who will spend the rest of the summer preparing for MCATs, the medical school entrance exams.

So far, Biochemistry-Chemistry major Mary Yates’ vacation view is through a microscope, looking into how the stain, congo red, binds to amyloid fibrils. Now in her second summer of research, Yates says the experience changed her mind about her future.

“I was going to medical school but now, after this experience, I’m thinking more about getting a Ph.D. and ultimately doing cancer research,” says the junior from Phoenix, Md.

Environmental Studies major Alexa Riland runs a test for contaminants during her studies of the water quality of Little Pipe Creek in Carroll County.

The closest Alexa Riland (pictured right running a test for contaminants during her studies of the water quality of Little Pipe Creek in Carroll County) has been to a beach this summer is the shore of Carroll County’s Little Pipe Creek, just down from Westminster’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, as the Environmental Studies junior from Bridgeton, N.J., samples the water for bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants while working with Environmental Studies professor Mona Becker.

McDaniel isn't preparing all students for lives in the lab or the academy, but the college prepares them to ask smart questions, identify the best sources of information, analyze and test that information, draw logical conclusions and generate ideas. What's more, students who complete research projects – independently or as part of professors' established programs – have powerful stories to tell in first job interviews or grad school applications.

Three endowed funds support summer research: The Mayetta Hawkins Boyer Student-Faculty Research Fund, The Jean and Donald Richards Student Research Fund and The Richard Singer Student Research Fund. The college funds the remaining research projects through various sources.

Across campus, students are working with their professors on research that crosses virtually all disciplines, from firm efficiency in Romania with Economics professor Kevin McIntyre to the Westminster Detective Library with English professor Mary Bendel-Simso and English professor emeritus LeRoy Panek; from logic, knowledge and interaction with Computer Science professor Pavel Naumov to the historical studies of African American communities in Maryland.

In the Exercise Science department, five students are studying the cardiovascular and metabolic responses to combined arm and leg exercise with professors Steve McCole and Jennifer McKenzie, while three students are immersed in wine chemistry with Chemistry instructor Steve Robertson.
Each year at McDaniel, students collaborate with their professors on more than 300 research projects. Many are published co-authors of professional papers and presentations even before they receive their degrees.

Here is a list of collaborative research projects, with professors and their students, underway this summer:

  1. Logic, Knowledge, and Interaction: Computer Science professor Pavel Naumov with Jeffrey Kane of Elkridge, Md., and Margaret Protzman of Elkridge, Md.
  2. Waring’s problem on quaternion algebras: Mathematics professor Spencer Hamblen with Samuel Whitfield of Laurel, Md.
  3. Ongoing research on firm efficiency in Romania: Economics professor Kevin McIntyre with Kristine Harjes of Rumson, N.J.
  4. Environmental Chemistry of Water and Soil: Environmental Studies professor Mona Becker with Lily Galzerano of Newburyport, Mass.; Aimee Semler of Baltimore; Natalie Price of Elkton, Md., and Alexa Riland of Bridgeton, N.J.
  5. The Westminster Detective Library: English professor Mary Bendel-Simso and English professor emeritus LeRoy Panek with Natalie Stefanelli of Dallas, Texas; Samantha Stair of Mount Airy, Md., and Shannon McClellan of Boonesboro, Md.
  6. Amyloid Fibrils in Disease and Technology: Chemistry professor Melanie Nilsson with Laura Carvalho of Silver Spring, Md.; Deanna Dicello of Gaithersburg, Md.; Olusegun Alade of Baltimore; Mary Yates of Phoenix, Md.; Triet Bui of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Peter Merkel of Ellicott City, Md., and Joel Kleinberg of Setauket, N.Y..
  7. GC-MS Analysis of Phenolics in Wine: Chemistry professor Rick Smith with Jake Zamostny of Mount Airy, Md.
  8. Historical Study of African American communities of Mt. Pleasant, Maryland: Chemistry professor Rick Smith with Shakeara Moore of Baltimore; Patricia Woodward of Hanover, Pa., and Shatia Stowers of Baltimore.
  9. Cardiovascular and Metabolic Responses to Combined Arm and Leg Exercise: Exercise Science and Physical Education professors Steve McCole and Jennifer McKenzie with Katherine Timmons of Bishopville, Md.; Kaylee Hoover of Winter Garden, Fla.; Evan Venters of Forest Hill, Md.; Sarah Mason of Westminster, Md., and Matthew Peterson of Littleton, Colo.
  10. Viticulture and Wine Chemistry: Chemistry instructor Steve Robertson with Holland Brown of Eldersburg, Md.; Adam Greenhaus of Montclair, N.J., and S. Mariel Ramey of Louisville, Ky.
  11. Does 3α-Diol attenuate negative behavioral effects of the anti-epileptic, phenytoin?: Psychology professor Madeline Rhodes with Carolyn Sledzik of Whitehall, Md.; Jasmine McCormick of Antioch, Calif., and Jason Stein of Rockville, Md.
  12. Dispersal of soil invertebrates as a function of soil compaction: Biology professors Molly Jacobs and Brett Mcmillan with Mary Chow of Silver Spring, Md., and Xi Huang of Sparks, Md.
  13. Physics research: Physics professor Bill Pagonis with Shirley Mancia of Baltimore; Sara Rosenfield, Rebeccah Goodnow of Pasdena, Md., and Huy Phan of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.