CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Fourteen Penn State Lehigh Valley student researchers were recently published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Jacqueline McLaughlin, associate professor of biology, and Tai-Yin Huang, professor of physics, served as faculty advisers.
Two papers were collaborative efforts between the biology and physics departments at the Lehigh Valley campus. While McLaughlin mentored the biology students on algal growth, Huang mentored her students from the Integrated Energy Solutions for Entrepreneurs (IESE) program, on designing the LED light modules for the experiments. The IESE students were Andrew Lee, a mechanical engineering major, and Kevin Casey, a petroleum and natural gas engineering major.
Future studies are now underway where biology students will be analyzing cell cycle dynamics and/or fatty acid production of the algal cells under LED lights.
"This collaboration is especially key because the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have called for more collaborative, interdisciplinary and authentic research experiences for undergraduates," said McLaughlin. "And here at Penn State Lehigh Valley, the biology and physics departments are doing just that."
The students from Penn State Lehigh Valley who had their undergraduate research accepted for publication include:
- Yeniffer Arguello, a biology major, whose papers titled "Induced Cell Culture Stress on A10 Cells Due to Changes in Media Conditions and Calcium Influx" appeared in the Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, Special Penn State: Lehigh Valley Issue, 3(5), 1-7. McLaughlin served as her faculty adviser. The purpose of Arguello’s research was to observe and analyze the growth patterns of smooth muscle cells derived from the thoracic aorta of an embryonic rat, Rattus norvegicus (A10 cell line) as they relate to "phenotypic switching" seen during atherosclerosis.
- Amanda Geis, a biology major, and William Sampson, an earth and mineral science major, worked collaboratively on the paper, "The Effects of LED Lights on the Growth of Chlorella vulgarus," which was published in the Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, Special Penn State: Lehigh Valley Issue, 3(5), 1-7. McLaughlin and Huang served as the faculty advisers. Their study, on the cultivation of Chlorella vulgaris, observed the efficiency of using LED lights compared to traditional grow lights to add further insight into ways to optimize algal growth for biofuel production.
- Lara Makhoul and Elizabeth Mills, both biology majors, worked collaboratively on the paper, "The Use of Red Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) at 660 nm to Cultivate Microalgae," which was published in the Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, Special Penn State: Lehigh Valley Issue, 3(5), 1-7. McLaughlin and Huang served as the faculty advisers. Makhoul and Mill’s experiment was conducted in order to investigate the potential of red LED lights to enhance the growth curve dynamics of microalgae.
- Habib Yazgi, Justin Cogan and Saied Atashpanjeh, all biology majors, worked together on a paper titled, "The Effects of Bovine Serum on the Growth Dynamics of A10 Cells in Culture," which was published in the Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, Special Penn State: Lehigh Valley Issue, 3(5), 1-7. McLaughlin served as the team’s faculty adviser. The purpose of this research was to study the growth curve dynamics of A10 cells (derived from the thoracic aorta of a BDIX embryonic rat, Rattus norvegicus) and the factors that affect their viability in cell culture.
- Tyler Adams, Rabia Anwar, Michael Mfarej and Taylor Rundatz, all biology majors, worked collaboratively on a paper titled, "Nutritional Stress of Cultured Vero Cells Causes Altered Growth and Morphology as Seen in Neoplastic Transformation," which was published in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, 12(3): 63-76. McLaughlin served as the team’s faculty adviser. Their results confirmed that nutritionally stressed and over-crowded cultures of mammalian Vero cells (a form of epithelial cells derived from the African green monkey kidney) result in cells that change morphologically, detach from the substrate, and exhibit spheroid-shaped clusters of cells. Moreover, sub-culturing these detached cells demonstrated that the results were permanent, meaning that the new growth patterns and clustering persisted, i.e., aberrant growth.
- Samantha Gonzalez and Fatima Afzal, both biology majors, worked together on a paper titled, "Direct and Indirect Effects of Pseudoephedrine on the Intrinsic Conduction System of the Embryonic Chicken Heart," which was published in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, 12 (3): 53-62. McLaughlin served as their faculty adviser. Their research utilized the chick embryonic heart as a model system to examine the chronotropic effects and mechanisms of Psedoephedrine on the developing vertebrate heart. Research suggests that this drug has both direct and indirect effects, and induces dangerous heart arrhythmias such as atrial flutter, in high doses.