Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program News

LVC Biochemistry, Biology and Chemistry Students Present Their Work at Regional Undergraduate Symposium.

October 20, 2012

Drs. Robert Carey (bio) and Walter Patton (chem) accompanied four LVC research students to the 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Three out of the four students won awards for poster presentations in their respective divisions.

Earning a second place award was Nate Helper (bcmb ’13; right), for his work, “Selaginella moellendorffii has a reduced and highly conserved expansin superfamily with genes more closely related to angiosperms than bryophytes,” performed with faculty mentor Robert Carey.

Travis Bicher (bio ‘13; left) won a first place award for his work, “Production and characterization of the dimerization domain of E. coli GMP synthetase,” performed with faculty mentor Walter Patton.  Alyssa Mitchell (chm, ’13; right) also presented her work “Exploring non-innocent ligand behavior in Zn (II) diimine complexes.” Alyssa performed her research at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO during summer 2012 when she was a summer researcher in Colorado State’s National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Stephanie Velardo (chem ’13; below left) won a first place award for her work, “Ruthenium tris-bypyridine oligimers as host systems for alkali and alkaline earth guests,” performed with faculty mentor Marc Harris (chem).

The undergraduate research symposium was sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health and featured two hundred and two poster presentations by undergraduates from colleges and universities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Student researchers attended from both small colleges like LVC and top research universities such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania.  Posters highlighted undergraduate research in areas of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and computational chemistry, among others. Students were judged on the quality of their presentation, their understanding of the work presented, their general knowledge of science in the area of their work and the level to which their individual efforts contributed to the findings presented and overall work accomplished.


Third Annual Disappearing Boundaries Summer Research Conference Held in Neidig-Garber

July 18, 2012

On Wednesday, July 18, LVC sponsored its third annual Disappearing Boundaries Summer Research Meeting, a full-day summer undergraduate research symposium for science faculty and their research students from central Pennsylvania colleges. The symposium, funded through a Merck/AAAS grant awarded to Lebanon Valley College in support of interdisciplinary research, brought together 58 students and 26 faculty from the disciplines of chemistry, biology, psychology, physics, and mathematics. Professor Wally Patton, who wrote the successful grant Merck/AAAS proposal, served as organizer of the event. Schools represented were LVC, Elizabethtown, Ursinus, Albright, and Messiah Colleges.

Following a welcome by Dr. Patton and President MacDonald, the group listened to three opening presentations. Drs. James McKay and Kristi Kneas of Elizabethtown College talked about their efforts to integrate real research activities into a senior-level integrated laboratory course in chemistry. Dr. Jon Coren, also from Elizabethtown, talked about his research group’s work with genomic libraries, and Dr. Roseann Sachs of Messiah College  described her sabbatical experiences teaching a green chemistry lab in Cambodia.

After the talks, faculty and students gathered in break-out groups according to areas of research. In the break out groups students and faculty shared their work with their counterparts from other institutions in a free-ranging give-and-take discussion. Lunch was served in the second-floor atrium of Neidig-Garber, followed by two sequential poster sessions in which students presented their work to their student peers and faculty from all the institutions represented.

Dr. Tibor Sipos (LVC Class of 1964), president of Digestive Care Inc., then presented the plenary lecture entitled “Protein (Enzyme) Drug Development in an FDA Regulated Environment,” in which he talked about his development of a pancreatic lipase therapy for patients with cystic fibrosis and other conditions causing a deficiency of digestive enzymes. The conference adjourned about 3:30 PM with an expressed intent to find a way to run it again in 2013.

Pictures:  (above) Stephanie Velardo of LVC explains her work to Dr. Kneas and research student from Elizabethtown College; research students from the laboratory of Dr. Frieda Texter (Albright) present their poster.  (left) Dr. Sipos during his lecture on drug development.

Biochemistry Research Presented at a Regional ACS Meeting
October 19, 2011

Kimberly Holt (Chem ’12) traveled to Saint Louis, MO to present her work at the 46th Midwest/ 39th Great Lakes Joint Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society on October 19-22, 2011.  Working with Dr. Walter Patton, Holt's work was entitled, “Synthesis and characterization of peptide-capped ZnS nanoparticles.”  

Attending the meeting with Holt was Allison Putt (Chem ’12).  Putt’s work in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Harris (chemistry) led to her presentation: “Complexation studies of Ru(II) and Re(I) pendant polyamine host complexes”


Disappearing Boundaries Research Symposium Held at LVC
July 13, 2011

With more than thirty faculty and sixty student attendees from chemistry and biology departments in thirteen institutions in Central Pennsylvania, the day-long Disappearing Boundaries Summer Research Meeting '11 featured undergraduate summer research on Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Funded by a generous grant from the Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) of Merck-AAAS, this unique summer meeting brought together student and faculty researchers from throughout Central PA to talk about their work in chemistry & biology and also highlighted undergraduate research at the biology-chemistry interface.

Events included talks by biologists and chemists about their research programs, a poster session and a Plenary Lecture by Professor Jong Yun, of the Penn State College of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology. Yun's talk entitled, “Drug Discovery Where Biology & Chemistry Meet: A Story of Sphingosine Kinase Inhibitors,” concluded the conference.

This meeting is part of the Disappearing Boundaries interdisciplinary research program established at LVC in 2009 following a successful grant proposal to Merck-AAAS, written and submitted by Dr. Walter Patton (Associate Professor of Chemistry). Patton's program established interdisciplinary research teams composed of faculty and students in chemistry & biology at LVC. Currently, research under this program at LVC includes a project involving the design synthesis of molecular sensors for tracking intracellular signaling events, as well as a project involving the interaction of nanoparticles with living systems.

The Merck Institute for Science Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sponsors the USRP, with the explicit purpose of enhancing undergraduate science education in the areas of chemistry and biology through undergraduate research experiences that foster an understanding of the interrelationship of these sciences. The world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal, Science, AAAS was founded in 1848 and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. LVC was one of 14 colleges and universities nationwide to receive a 2009 Merck-AAAS award.


Lappas Group Publishes Paper on T Lymphocyte Work
January 2011

A manuscript by Veronica Chehata (BIO '11), Phil Domeier (BCMB '10), Justin Weilnau (BCMB' 13) and Dr. Courtney Lappas was published in the January issue of Cellular Immunology.   The paper, "Adenosine A2A receptor activation limits chronic granulomatous disease-induced hyperinflammation," describes the effects of an adenosine A2A receptor agonist on hyperinflammation through the modulation of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines.  These findings are significant in that they suggest potential therapeutic strategies for chronic granulomatous disease or CGD. 

Phil is currently a research technician at the Penn State College of Medicine (Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), Veronica begins begins medical school at Penn State this fall and Justin is continuing his work in the Lappas Laboratory during the summer and academic year.


Moe Publishes Electrochemistry Paper With Former Students
January 2011 

Andrew Yeagley ('05), AuBrei Weigand-Heller ('07), Derek Hinds ('06), Ashley Kerstetter Gerrish ('04), and Corey Weaver ('07) are co-authors with Professor Owen Moe on the article, Substituent and solvent dependence of the one-electron reduction of 5-substitiuted-N-methylisatins in aprotic solvents, recently published by Elsevier Press: Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, 2011, 651, 228-232.

The article reports cyclic voltammetric measurements of the reduction potentials of nine different 5-substituted N-methylisatins in 10 different aprotic organic solvents. Analysis of the data using Hammett Plots and correlations with empirical solvent polarity parameters provides an understanding of how both the substituents and the solvents can affect the ease of electrochemical reduction of the isatin derivatives. Various types of isatins are precursors in the synthesis of anticancer, tuberculostatic, antiviral, and immunosuppressive drugs. The LVC paper can be viewed at the journal website.

Andy Yeagley earned his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Virginia and is now doing postdoctoral research at North Carolina State University. AuBrei Weigand-Heller earned an MS in Food Science at Penn State and now works at the FDA. Derek Hinds is completing a Doctoral degree in Pharmacy at the University of Pittsburgh. Ashley Gerrish earned an MSE at Arizona State University and is completing an APRN degree at the University of Vermont, and Corey Weaver is working as an industrial analytical chemist.


LVC Students Present Research in Baltimore
October 30, 2010

LVC research students participated in the 13th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on October 30, 2010. Nine LVC undergraduates presented posters as part of the symposium, which highlights research in areas of biochemistry, biology, and chemistry. The symposium, sponsored the National Institutes of Health, featured an address by University of Michigan energy researcher Theodore Goodson III.

During the morning and afternoon poster sessions, 192 undergraduates presented, representing 47 different colleges and universities from nine different states. Scientists from industry and academia heard the student presentations, quizzed the students on their work, and then awarded a number of first and second place awards to top posters. LVC students fared well at the 2010 event, winning one first place and two second place awards. The student authors and titles of the LVC presentations can be viewed under Presentations, both here and on the LVC Chemistry Page.


Lappas Group Presents at Research Meeting in Baltimore
May 7, 2010

Phil Domeier (BCMB '10), Veronica Chehata (BIO '11) and Dr. Courtney Lappas presented a poster, entitled "Adenosine A2A receptor activation inhibits T cell activity in a murine model of chronic granulomatous disease", at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunologists.

This meeting is the largest annual meeting of Immunologists.  The Lappas group presented their work along side of researchers from large research and medical institutions.


Lappas and Collaborators Publish Paper
January 2010

Dr. Courtney Lappas, along with collaborators at the NIH (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and the University of Virginia, has published a paper, entitled "A2A receptor activation limits graft-versus-host disease after allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation," in the. Journal of Leukocyte Biology.  Link

This paper is significant because the work may prove to be the first step in the development and implementation of a new treatment for graft-versus-host disease, and, therefore, may result in bone marrow transplants becoming safer and more available to individuals in need of donations.


LVC Students Present Research in Baltimore
October 10, 2009

Thirteen LVC research students in chemistry and biochemistry travelled to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) on Saturday, October 10 to present the results of their research projects. Accompanied by Professors Tim Peelen and Wally Patton, the students made a total of nine presentations at the 12th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences.


The UMBC conference, a prestigious annual showcase for undergraduate research in the chemical and biological sciences, is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The 2009 conference drew 192 student papers from over 40 colleges and universities in eight mid-Atlantic states. The 2009 symposium also featured an address by Peter Agre, 2003 Nobel laureate in chemistry

All papers were heard by panels of judges who awarded prizes for the best research presentations. LVC students fared well at the event, winning three first place and two second place awards. The student authors and titles of the LVC presentations can be viewed under Presentations, both here and on the LVC Chemistry Page.
 

Grant Received for Interdisciplinary Research
January 26, 2009

The Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) of Merck-AAAS has awarded Lebanon Valley College a grant of $60,000 to support interdisciplinary research projects at the interface of chemistry and biology. The grant proposal, written and submitted by Dr. Walter Patton, Associate Professor of Chemistry, will provide funding for three primary projects:

  • The Design of Molecules to Study Intracellular Signaling Events
  • The Development of Nanoparticles for Therapeutic Applications
  • The Discovery of Natural Products that Affect Microbial Organisms
The projects will be carried out by teams of students and faculty from both the chemistry and biology departments over a period of three years, and the grant will provide summer stipends for participants and necessary supplies. The grant will also provide funds for undergraduate travel for presentation of student research, an ongoing seminar series, and a capstone undergraduate research symposium to be held at Lebanon Valley College. LVC was one of 14 colleges and universities nationwide to receive a 2009 Merck-AAAS award.

The Merck Institute for Science Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sponsor the USRP, whose purpose it is to enhance undergraduate science education in the areas of chemistry and biology through undergraduate research experiences that foster an understanding of the interrelationship of these sciences. The world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal, Science, AAAS was founded in 1848 and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals.


LVC Students Present Research in Philadelphia
January 22, 2009

LVC students from the research group of Professor Timothy Peelen participated in the 9th Annual Graduate and 4th Annual Undergraduate Student Poster Session at Temple University on January 22, 2009. The symposium is sponsored by the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society. Five LVC undergraduates participated in the poster session which featured 36 graduate posters and 26 undergraduate posters. Posters were judged by scientists from industry and academia and three posters from each division were honored. This year, LVC students won two of the three top undergraduate awards as Nathaniel Bair and Kenneth Potter were recognized for having outstanding poster presentations. Presenting at the meeting were:

  • Nathaniel Bair ('09, chemistry) "Leaving Group Effects in Acyl Iminium Chemistry: Opportunities for Novel Reactivity."
  • Kenneth Potter ('09, biochemistry), "Lewis Acid-Catalyzed Reactions of alpha-Acetoxy Glycine Esters: Toward the Asymmetric Synthesis of Unnatural Amino Acids"
  • Adam Wier ('09, biochemistry) "Diastereomeric Interactions in Esterifications of Chiral Trifluoromethyl Alcohols."
  • Sara Schwanger ('09, chemistry) "Diastereomeric Interactions of Trifluoromethyl Containing Compounds: A Window into the Origins of Homochirality."
  • Brandon Parks ('10, chemistry and biochemistry) "An Exercise in Drug Discovery: Parallel Synthesis of Lidocaine Derivatives and Analysis of Their Metabolic Stability Using LC-MS-MS."

LVC Students Present Research in Baltimore
October 11, 2008

For the 7th consecutive year, LVC research students participated in the 11th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on October 11, 2008. Twenty LVC undergraduates participated in the symposium, presenting or co-presenting a total of sixteen posters. The annual Baltimore symposium highlights interdisciplinary research in areas of biochemistry, biology, cell biology, chemistry, computational chemistry & molecular biology. The symposium, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, featured 214 presentations by undergraduates representing 42 different colleges and universities from nine different states and the District of Columbia. Scientists from industry and academia heard student presentations, quizzed the students on their work, and then awarded a number of first and second place awards to top papers. This year, LVC students won a total of eight awards, as listed below:


  • Samantha Burkey ('09, chemistry) first place for her work with Dr. Marc Harris, entitled "Investigating Host-Guest Interactions between Bipyridine Azacrown-Ether Macrocycles and Alkylai Ion Guests."
  • Nathaniel Bair ('09, chemistry) first place for his work with Dr. Timothy Peelen, entitled "Leaving Group Effects in Acyl Iminium Chemistry: Opportunities for Novel Reactivity."
  • Sara Schwanger ('09, chemistry) first place for her work with Dr. Peelen, entitled "Diastereomeric Interactions of Trifluoromethyl Containing Compounds: A Window into the Origins of Homochirality."
  • Nicholas Boaz ('10, chemistry) first place for his work with Dr. Christopher Siedlecki of the Hershey Medical Center, entitled "The Effect of Protein Adsorption Competition on FXIa Generation in Material-Induced Blook Plasma Coagulation."
  • Charles Schmidt ('10, biochemistry) second place for his work with Dr. Walter Patton, entitled "Ruthenium Bipyridine Compounds as SDS-PAGE- and MALDI-Compatible Protein Labels."
  •  Khevna Shukla ('11, biology) and Patricia Cunfer ('11, biology) second place for their work with Dr. Kristen Boeshore, entitled "Modeling Neuronal Regeneration in PC12 Cells."
  • Michael Porambo ('09, chemistry) and Heather Howard ('11, chemistry) second place for their work with Dr. Andy Marsh, entitled "Development of a User-Friendly Software Program for Temperature-Programmed Desorption Studies of Interstellar Chemistry."
  • Brandon Parks ('10, chemistry and biochemistry) second place for his work with Dr. Peelen, entitled "An Exercise in Drug Discovery: Parallel Synthesis of Lidocaine Derivatives and Analysis of Their Metabolic Stability Using LC-MS-MS."

Professors Timothy Peelen and Walter Patton from the Chemistry Department and Kristen Boeshore from the Biology Department accompanied the students to the symposium.