Asbury Science Students Conduct Summer Research – Asbury University
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Asbury Science Students Conduct Summer Research

July 18, 2023

Ewing Wiley ’24 with faculty supervisor Dr. Marvin Ruffner

This summer, Asbury students in the Shaw School of Sciences continue to conduct research and get hands-on experience through internship opportunities across the U.S. Students in the Shaw Student Research Internship Program conduct research under the supervision of science professors: Ewing Wiley ’24, Katherine Stanley ’24, and Sara Brewer ’24.

“For the past three summers, thanks to a generous gift from Walt and Rowena Shaw, we have been able to support three faculty-student intern teams doing research,” said Dr. Vins Sutlive, dean and professor of the Shaw School of Sciences. “The goal of each research team is to undertake and complete a summer research project that, when completed and analyzed, will have a tangible product, which they could present at a scientific conference.”

Biology major Ewing Wiley ’24 works with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Marvin Ruffner to revitalize woodlands invaded by honeysuckle through removing the honeysuckle and planting forest species to establish a native plant community.

“Our research focuses on managing invasive species and revitalizing, promoting, and nurturing the health and biodiversity of our local forests, woodlands, and natural areas,” Ruffner said.

“My tentative plan at the moment is to go on to medical school in Georgia and become a doctor,” Wiley said. “Conducting research alongside Dr. Ruffner has been a great experience.”

Chemistry major Katherine Stanley ’24 works with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Wilson Shafer to identify the structure of a catalyst precursor used by Shepherd Chemicals in Cincinnati. Katherine plans to present her work at the Tri-State Catalysis Society meeting in Morgantown, W.Va., this September and at the American Chemical Society 2024 Spring Meeting in New Orleans, ultimately hoping to be published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

“Katherine joined my group’s research about a year ago and, in that time, has come to be a leader in this work,” said Shafer. “Our previous paper took almost three years to publish, and with her leadership, as an undergraduate doing graduate work, we will have this next one out in a year.”

“After graduation, it is my hope to attend a Ph.D. program to continue my study of physical chemistry, so I will be applying to a lot of those programs in the fall,” Stanley said.

Biology major Sara Brewer works with Professor of Biology Dr. Ben Brammell on several projects related to the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in the detection of aquatic organisms.

“The project she is currently working on is an assessment of salamander populations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park using eDNA,” said Brammell. “Sara is a uniquely talented student and has already accomplished a tremendous amount in her undergraduate research career including one manuscript on which she is the first author currently in review at Herpetological Conservation and Biology. She is preparing to apply to graduate school in molecular biology and pursue a research career.”

“I’m incredibly excited to have the chance to work on this project!” Brewer said. “I have come to love molecular biology lab work during my undergrad research career and having the opportunity to play a major role in this project.”

Additional science students continue to serve across Kentucky and the U.S. Biology major Ethan Hoogerheide ’24 serves as an intern at the Division of Water in Frankfort, Ky., and Chemistry major Rebekah Bogle ’24 works with NASA samples as a senior research aide at the Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source based in Ill.

“I work under biologists who test water bodies throughout Kentucky via macroinvertebrates, fish, and water samples,” said Hoogerheide, who plans to attend graduate school after graduating from Asbury. “Dr. Brammell has been my advisor throughout my Asbury journey and he truly has been a huge help in guiding me to a career path. He was the one who found this internship listing and encouraged me to apply for it.”

“I am working on computer modeling of molecules based on X-ray diffraction data collected previously on the beamline,” Bogle said. “I plan to pursue my Ph.D. in analytical chemistry after I graduate.”

With an 88% acceptance rate into medical school, the Shaw School of Sciences offers fourteen majors and six minors, including biology, chemistry, and physics: The Shaw Collaborative Learning Center offers eleven laboratories, with spaces dedicated to eDNA research, cell and molecular biochemistry, ecology and environmental science, physics, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, instrumentation, biology preparation, chemistry preparation, and collaborative innovation.