Asbury Students Win Presentation Awards
Three Asbury University seniors won awards at the annual Kentucky Academy of Sciences conference, displaying both the breadth and the depth of student interests and research capabilities.
Eight Asbury students and three faculty members attended the conference at Murray State University. Because the conference is regional rather than specific to a particular branch of science, the group was able to see presentations about a variety of research topics.
“I am always impressed in the quality of research being done by undergraduates at Kentucky schools,” said Dr. Bruce Branan, chemistry professor at Asbury. “Undergraduate research used to be rare, but now is something everyone majoring in science does. Asbury students consistently do well at these presentations, which I believe is testimony to both the high quality of their projects, and the significant amount of work they do in conducting the research.”
2011 Asbury award winners were:
- Julianne Wyrick ’12 won first place in the oral presentation competition in the agricultural sciences category for her presentation about nitrate toxicity in grasses grown for animal feed. A biochemistry student, she conducted her research over the summer with Dr. Ray Smith ’83 at the University of Kentucky Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. By analyzing the grass cuttings in a field of sorghum-sudangrass, she was able to demonstrate that organic fertilization with chicken litter appeared to lower nitrate levels in the grass compared to traditional, ammonium nitrate fertilizers.
- Demetria Todd ’12 won second place in the undergraduate poster presentation competition in the ecology and environmental science category. Working with Asbury Assistant Professor Ben Brammell, Todd conducted research on chemical alarm cue response in two fish species native to Central Kentucky. When fish are attacked and eaten, molecules are released into the water from their skin, collectively known as a chemical alarm cue, and other fish respond to those molecules. Todd demonstrated that a species that is a common prey item exhibited signs of fear when exposed to its own chemical alarm cue while predator fish demonstrated excitement, presumably in response to a perceived meal, when exposed to the same cue. Interestingly, predator fish showed no response when exposed to their own alarm cue, consistent with their status as top predators.
- Evelyn Robuck ’12 won third place in the undergraduate poster presentation competition in the physiology and biochemistry category. The biology major participated in a competitive summer research opportunity sponsored by the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, working with Dr. Doug Borchman at the University of Louisville. Robuck analyzed the data from a research study that examined the chemical composition of tears from people ranging in age from one to 88. She was able to identify some of the chemicals in meibum, a key component in the lipid layer of tear film.