Far-reaching research

Far-reaching summer research

June 26, 2015

In early June rising junior Jaya Borgatta '16 and chemistry professor Juan Navea traveled to Valencia, Spain, to attend the Wessex Institute for Air Pollution’s annual conference, where she presented their published paper on the interactions and potential impacts of iron carried by and leached from mineral-based droplets floating in the atmosphere. The chemistry major is now co-writing her third paper on fly ash emitted from coal-fueled power plants in India, Europe, and the US. "Every power plant has a specific climate and ecological impact," explains Navea, "based on the chemical composition of the particles it emits and how they dissolve and release iron into atmospheric water (clouds, fog, rain). Iron is a critical nutrient for ocean phytoplankton, which consume greenhouse gas, CO2, from the atmosphere."

Borgatta, who has been working with the Navea Research Group since the fall semester of her sophomore year, is joined this summer by Schupf Scholars Deborah Kim '18, Katherine Shi '18, and Talia Stortini '18—all rising freshmen doing summer research for the first time and planning to continue this fall. Navea says, "Jaya has become a scientist in every sense of the word, a twice-published scientist no less. And Deborah, Katie, and Talia, as first-year researchers, have already made a great impact in my lab in just four weeks."

"What’s really cool about the research is how one-of-a-kind it is and how our discoveries truly matter," says Kim, who is now rethinking her plan to go to veterinary school. "We don't have a lot of information on fly ash dissolution—there are only a few research groups in the world studying it—so it's exciting every time we get new results."

This year’s Summer Faculty-Student Research Program features 88 Skidmore students working intensively with 41 faculty members on 67 summer-long research projects in a wide range of disciplines. Here are a few (full list of projects below):

Political elites in Turkey

Professor Feryaz Okackli with his research team, economics majors Ovgu Bozgeyik ‘16 and Oyku Bozgeyik ’16
Professor Feryaz Ocakli with his
research team, economics majors 
Ovgu Bozgeyik '16 and Oyku
Bozgeyik '16

Another project with global implications is government professor Feryaz Ocakli’s "Diverse Paths to Political Power: An Examination of the Career Trajectories of Turkish Political Elites." Ocakli’s main area of research is Islamist parties. He explores how Islamist parties broaden their appeal to non-Islamist voters and succeed in elections. He has also been eager to analyze the educational, occupational, and demographic backgrounds of Turkey’s members of parliament (For more on his research and teaching, go here.) .

Says Ocakli, "I wanted to study the political elites because we don’t actually know who they are and how they got elected to the nation’s parliament, at least not in quantitative terms. I wanted to create a data set to illuminate the forces at work. But I needed a responsible Skidmore student who spoke Turkish to do this work."

No problem. Beginning last spring semester, he hired economics majors Ovgu Bozgeyik '16 and Oyku Bozgeyik '16, twin sisters from Turkey, as his research assistants. Things went so well that they asked if they could continue their data collection efforts and make it part of the summer research program.

Says Oyku, "Though I study economics, this project has helped me realize the effect of politics on a country's state of affairs. When this country is Turkey, everything gets really interesting because we know a lot and a little at the same time as students who come from Turkey. The experience with data collection and analysis will also benefit us after Skidmore when we apply to Ph.D. programs in economics."

Groundbreaking hydropower

The Chittendon Falls hydro dam operator talks with Skidore students including Caroline Hobbs '16, center.
The Chittendon Falls hydro dam
operator talks with Skidmore students
including Caroline Hobbs '16, center.

This April, Skidmore and its project partner, Gravity Renewables, celebrated the opening of a refurbished micro-hydro plant that we hope will provide up to four megawatts hours of electricity annually to the grid, which Skidmore has agreed to purchase for two decades. The College will get about 18 percent of its electricity from the dam.

Caroline Hobbs '16, an economics and environmental studies double major, spoke at the April ribbon-cutting . She says what most excites her about this "ground-breaking" project is that there are "minimal negative ecological effects" and that the "untapped potential in New York state for more micro-hydro projects is huge."

Hobbs is working this summer with environmental studies professor Karen Kellogg to create an interactive website that she hopes will increase visibility around Skidmore’s renewable energy initiatives and spur on additional micro-hydro projects and partnerships. This fall, Hobbs and Kellogg also plan to co-author a paper and do a presentation on the history of the dam.

Says Hobbs, "I hope the project will help more students recognize that Skidmore is truly on the cutting-edge in terms of renewable energy policy and action and take greater pride in what our school is all about."

Too old for college?

Math majors Sarah Markiewicz '16 and Kenzie Furman '16 say professor Michael Lopez’s  "Probability and Statistics" course last semester whetted their appetite for research this summer.

Lopez, who enjoys analyzing sports data and has written for Sports Illustrated and Hockey News, is well aware of studies indicating that athletes born in the first part of the calendar year often outperform the rest of their age group because they get a head start. It surprised him, though, that similar statistical analyses had not been done on college students. Why not study Skidmore data?

He says, "We're looking at measures like graduation status, GPA, and SAT scores for students, specifically wondering if the relatively older students have shown better or worse performance, and also hoping to identify other determinants of student success." Markiewicz isn’t sure what she wants to do after college but knows she enjoys applied math, so she jumped at the opportunity to test-drive these statistics. Furman plans to be an actuary, so an experience with statistics and probability is a great fit for her future.

Bacterial genetics 

Chemistry professor Kelly Sheppard's summer research team, L-R, Hannah Schapiro ’17, Miles Calzini ’16, Julia Erskine '17, David Sweezey ’17, Meggie Danielson ’17, and Ruth Allard ’16.
Chemistry professor Kelly Sheppard's
summer research team, L-R, Hannah 
Schapiro '17, Miles Calzini '16, Julia
Erskine '17, David Sweezey '17, Meggie 
Danielson '17, and Ruth Allard '16. 

Bacteria are a great opportunists and adapters, which can present problems for fighting disease, says chemistry professor Kelly Sheppard. Prevention solutions require a keen understanding of how bacteria exploit different environments.

Describing his work with Sheppard on asparaginyl-tRNA formation in bacilli, Miles Calzini '16 explains, "In the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, I'm getting rid of a gene that's responsible for the correct attaching of the amino acid asparagine to its transfer RNA. The organism has another way to do this attaching. We're going to see how this removal, called a knockout, affects growth of the bacterium, since it will have to rely on its alternate pathway."

Miles is teaming up with Julia Erskine '17, a rising sophomore who presented a poster on aspartyl-tRNA synthesis in Bacillus anthracis, a pathogenic relative of B. subtilis, at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Boston in March. With Sheppard and previous Skidmore undergraduate co-authors, they plan to submit an article to the journal Nucleic Acids Research later this summer on the dual routes for asparaginyl-tRNA formation these bacteria. They are joined this summer by Ruth Allard '16, who hopes to go to medical school, and David Sweezey '17, who is aiming for graduate school.

After a year and a half doing research with Sheppard, Erskine, who plans to become a physician’s assistant, is pleased with her progress. "Not only am I confident and more competent in lab, but I have learned how to troubleshoot when things don't work out (which is often). I am no longer reliant on lab manuals or cookie-cutter procedures. I am able to think for myself, and think like a scientist."


 

Summer Collaborative Research 2015 People and Projects

Schupf Scholars                                                                                           

1. Frederick, Kimberley, Chemistry, Cantwell, Kelly '18, Construction of a lab-on-a-CD player analysis platform, Schupf (10-week)      

2. Frederick, Kimberley, Chemistry, Greenspan, Jillian '17, Development of a remote analysis device for monitoring water contamination near fracking sites, Schupf (10-week)   

3. Navea, Juan, Chemistry, Shi, Katherine '18, Water adsorption on tropospheric aerosols, Schupf (10-week)      

4. Navea, Juan, Chemistry, Kim, Deborah, '18, Atmospheric aerosol dissolution, Schupf (10-week) 

5. Navea, Juan, Chemistry, Stortini, Talia '18, Heterogeneous  chemistry and photochemistry, Schupf (10-week) 

6. Sheppard, Kelly, Chemistry, Schapiro, Hannah '17, Expanding the genetic code of E.coli with Pyroglutamate, Schupf (10-week)        

7. Sheppard, Kelly, Chemistry, Danielson, Meggie '17, Asparaginyl-tRNA formation in Bacilli, Schupf (10-week)                

Higher Education Opportunity Program    

8. Frederick, Kimberley, Chemistry, Wang, Sibin '16, Development of a paper-based test for malaria, 5-week-2, HEOP   

9. Reynolds, T.H., Health and Exercise Sciences, Escudero, Daniela '16, Succinic acid as a potential treatment for age-related metabolic dysfunction, 5-week-2, HEOP       

10. Possidente, Bernard, Biology, Cuevas, Randy '16, Geometric morphemetric analysis of the effects of lead on Drosophila wing shape and body size, 5-week-2, HEOP           

11. Bonner, Jennifer, Biology and Neuroscience, Campbell, Delon '16, Using zebrafish to study nervous system defects in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, 10-week, HEOP  

Weg Scholars                                                                                                

12. Bales, Kara Cetto, Chemistry, Friedman, Nicholas '17, Synthetic investigation and application of a substituted 4,6-dimethyl-3-cyclohexene compound, 10-week, Weg

13. Bales, Kara Cetto, Chemistry, Soong, Lauren '16, Synthetic investigation of Diels-Alder reactions with a-B unsaturated ketones, 5-week-1, Weg           

14. Bales, Kara Cetto, Chemistry, O'Sullivan, Justin '17, Synthetic investigation of Diels-Alder reactions with a-B unsaturated ketones, 10-week, Weg   

15. Domozych,David, Biology, Lietz, Anna '17, Functional role of auxin hormones in charophytes: an evolutionary perspective, 10-week, Weg

16. Domozych, David, Biology, Patten, Molly '17, Charophyte cell wall proteomics: In search of the super polymer domain, 10-week, Weg             

17. Drake, Abby Grace, Biology, Street, Jessica '16, Who let the wolves in? Geometric morphometric analysis of morphological variation during domestication, 5-week-2, Weg        

18. Frederick, Kimberley, Chemistry, Bryant, Julie '16, Development of a lab-on-a-CD player analysis platform, 5-week-2, Weg

19. Lopez, Hassan, Psychology and Neuroscience, Schoolcraft, Kathleen ’16, How does cannabidiol reduce seizure activity?, 5-week-1, Weg     

20. McDevitt, Sylvia, Biology, Rivera, Ana Sofia '16, Survival under copper shock - testing the importance of a proposed copper resistance island, 5-week-1, Weg        

21. Navea, Juan, Chemistry, Borgatta, Jaya '16, Environmental effect of humic acids on aqueous iron, 10-week, Weg                  

Axelrod

22. Ernst, Anne, Environmental Studies, Sidor, Lauren '17, Assessing water quality in Kayaderosseras Creek, 5-week-1, Axelrod             

23. Howard, Rebecca, Chemistry, Ruel, Travers '16, Physicochemical determinants of alcohol modulation in a model ligand-gated ion channel binding site, 5-week-1, Axelrod                  

Undesignated Unrestricted Funds                                                               

24. Das, Monica, Economics, Raynaud, Lukas '17, Role of nano-economics in economic growth and development , 5-week-2, undesignated   

25. Halstead, Evan, Physics, Vardiashvili, Guram '16, Inflation in 2+1 dimensions, 8-week, undesignated  

26. Howlett, David  linked with Kent, Eliza, Philosophy & Religion, Williams, Alina '16, Strangite Mormon narratives of religious freedom and religious persecution in New York and beyond, 8-week, undesignated            

27. Karp, David, Campus Life, Frank, Olivia '16, The future of restorative justice, 10-week, undesignated             

28. Lindemann, Richard, Geosciences, Kilgore, Matthew '16, Dacryoconarid biostratigraphy of the middle devonian bakoven shale of Eastern NYS,  5-week-1, undesignated     

29. Lopez, Michael, Mathematics, Markiewicz, Sarah '16, Relative age effect on college admission and enrollment, 10-week, undesignated      

30. Ocakli, Feryaz, Government, Bozgeyik, Ovgu '16, Paths to Power:  An Examination of the Career Trajectories of Turkish Political Elites, 5-week-1, undesignated       

31. Ocakli, Feryaz, Government, Bozgeyik, Oyku '16, Paths to Power:  An Examination of the Career Trajectories of Turkish Political Elites, 5-week-1, undesignated       

32. Odekon, Mary Crone, Physics, Gengras, Graeme '17, Are galaxies pre-processed in filaments? 5-week-1, undesignated        

33. Odekon, Mary Crone, Physics, Hyman, Mario '16, Are galaxies pre-processed in filaments? 5-week-1, undesignated 

34. Schneller, Andrew J., Environmental Studies, Coburn, Sarah '16, Impacts of participation in environmental voluntourism programs on participant Commitment to Volunteerism, Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors, and Involvement in Envrionmental Issues, 5-week-2, undesignated                       

Named Unrestricted Funds                              

35. Frederick, Kimberley, Chemistry, Rehmeyer, Nathanael '18, Development of a urine-based diagnostic for malaria, 10-week, Reiderer Family           

36. Howard, Rebecca, Chemistry, Mola, Alex '16, Physicochemical determinants of alcohol modulation in a model ligand-gated ion channel binding site, 5-week-1, Riederer Family

37. Sheppard, Kelly, Chemistry, Allard, Ruth '16, Asparaginyl-tRNA formation in Bacilli, 10-week, Riederer Family                      

38. Giguere, Ray, Chemistry, Ani, Jood '16, Synthetic investigations of tandem intramolecular diels-alder reactions, 5-week-1, D & J Richards Fund            

39. Johnson, Rebecca, Psychology, Slate, Sarah Rose'16, The processing of blend words in visual word recognition, 10-week, Harman Cain Family      

40. Johnson, Rebecca, Psychology, Starr, Emma '16, The effect of emotion-laden words on processing during reading, 5-week-2, Harman Cain Family 

41. Schofield, Casey, Psychology, Aaron, Elizabeth '16, Evaluating the impact of shame on treatment-seeking for anxiety, 5-week-1, Harman Cain Family

42. Knickerbocker, H. Faye, Psychology, Boucher, Juliana '16, Meta proactive interference, 8-week, Harman Cain Family               

43. Bonner, Jennifer, Biology and Neuroscience, Brojakowska, Agnieszka '17, Using zebrafish to study nervous system defects in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, 10-week, Philip P. Markowitz                              

44. Ernst, Anne, Environmental Studies, Van Meter, Nate '17, Assessing water quality in Kayaderosseras Creek, 10-week, Margaret Williams Page                                              

45. Kellogg, Karen, Environmental Studies, Hobbs, Caroline '16, The power of the Chittenden Falls dam, 5-week-1, Marlene Oberkotter Fowler        

46. Mulligan, Scott, Management and Business and International Affairs, Diggs, Makeda '17, Surveillance studies in the 21st century: A study of GIS and surveillance technologies for classroom use and museum exhibition, 5-week-1, Marlene Oberkotter Fowler     

47. Nathan, Daniel, American Studies, Kipperman, Nevon '16, Reel sport and Hollywood, 5-week-1, Marlene Oberkotter Fowler          

48. Turner, Robert, Government, Veatch, Elena '16, Strange bedfellows of state immigration politics, 10-week, Marlene Oberkotter Fowler

49. Lagalwar, Sara, Neuroscience, Lowry, Spencer '18, Modeling spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 in mice and cells, 5-week-2, Rafael Nasser       

50. Lagalwar, Sara, Neuroscience, Nguyen, Donna '18, Modeling spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 in mice and cells, 5-week-2, Rafael Nasser       

51. Lagalwar, Sara, Neuroscience, Burr, Eliza '17, Modeling spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 in mice and cells, 5-week-2, Rafael Nasser                

52. Ives, Stephen, Health and Exercise Sciences, Eddy, Cassandra '17, The effects of aging, a high fat diet, and long term succinic acid treatment on vascular health and mitochondrial function in mice, 10-week, Richard A. Mellon        

53. McDevitt, Sylvia, Biology, Zepeda-Carranza, Bryan '17, Copper-Silver cross resistance-testing the potential of homolog proteins of CopA from Escherichia coli, 5-week-1, Richard A. Mellon             

54. Lepkowska-White, Ela, Management and Business and International Affairs, Rinaolo, Sarah '17, Creative Web Design: Application of cognitive map theory in the context of online restaurant marketing, 10-week, Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Woodcock                     

55. Lee, Soyong, Education Studies, Gross, Kendall '16, Education systems in the international context, 5-week-1, Jim Lippman and Linda Friedman Lippman                      

56. Lopez, Michael, Mathematics, Furman, Mackenzie '16, Relative age effect on college admission and enrollment, 10-week, Jim Lippman and Linda Friedman Lippman               

57. Estapa, Margaret, Geosciences  , McCully, Emma '16, Measuring hydrothermal plume particles with optical backscattering sensors: preliminary tests of a new method, 10-week, Samuel Croll                     

58. Roca, Maryuri, Chemistry, Skipper, Hannah '17, Tunability of nanoparticle's color in polymer preparation, 5-week-1, Michael Rose             

59. Ives, Stephen, Health and Exercise Sciences, O'Brien, Gabe '16, The effects of aging, a high fat diet, and long term succinic acid treatment on vascular health and mitochondrial function in mice, 10-week, Christy Johnson           

60. Reynolds  T.H., Health and Exercise Sciences, Gorstein, Lauren '17, Succinic acid as a potential treatment for age-related metabolic dysfunction, 5-week-1, Christy Johnson                 

61. Kennerly, William, Chemistry, Kofke, Elijah '16, Computational photochemistry of organic fluorescent molecules, 10-week, Shehan Dissanayake

 

Tags: , summer research, collaborative research
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