Spring 2007: Students Present Research at Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Symposium, St. Joseph's University, April 20th
From L to R in photo: Alisa Turner (Biochem), Marissa Wisniewski (Sci + Bus), Michele Petruzzi (Sci + Bus), Shari Chung (Sci + Bus), Nicole Rienzi (Sci + Bus), and Jeff Ashley (front, kneeling) Absent from photo: Sarah Wiegand, Kim Trout
Students enrolled in Dr. Ashley’s “Instrumental Methods of Analysis” presented their semester-long research at this year’s Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Symposium at St. Joseph’s University on April 20th. The research evaluated the presence and levels of man-made contaminants such as mercury and PCBs in over-the-counter fish oil supplements (for example, cod liver oil capsules). The students found very levels of pollutants and subsequently concluded that these supplements represent a more healthy way of obtaining omega-3-fatty acids as compared to ingesting actual fish.
Spring 2006: Faculty and Students Go To Washington, D.C. to Promote Science Literacy
Anne Bockarie, assistant professor of biology, and Jeff Ashley, assistant professor of chemistry, and three students spent last Wednesday in Washington, D.C., attending a Senate hearing on math and science education and participating in a Capitol Hill poster presentation that highlighted an innovative science literacy course taught at Philadelphia University. In addition, the students, biochemistry major Gregory Granato, conservation and environmental biology major Joell Miller and science and business major Egbert Simon, met with Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to talk about the need to foster science literacy in the U.S. At the Senate hearing, it was noted that the U.S. is 25th in the world in science literacy, behind Bulgaria.
The Philadelphia University group went to Washington to spread the word on an innovative course, Exploring Science, that was developed here with grants from the National Science Foundation and Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities. The course, first taught in spring ’05, is designed to give non-science majors the tools to made good health decisions for themselves and their families and use their knowledge to make appropriate voting and civic decisions. The course focuses on seven important public health issues: obesity, smoking, drinking water quality, pesticides in food, genetically-modified organisms, childhood lead poisoning and skin cancer.
Spring 2006: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Funds Contaminant Research
To determine the extent of PBDE (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers - flame retardant chemicals are added to carpet pads, foam cushions, computer casings, televisions and textiles to reduce their ability to burn) accumulation in the fatty tissue of American eels from the Delaware River Estuary, a grant from the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (A National Estuary Program implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) was awarded to Dr. Jeffrey Ashley, assistant professor of chemistry at Philadelphia University.
Dr. Ashley’s research will provide the first extensive baseline of PBDE concentrations within the living resources of the Delaware River Estuary. American eels, thought to have a limited home range, are reliable indicators of other pollutants within the Delaware. Dr. Ashley hypothesizes that this species bioaccumulates PBDEs to a significant degree, especially in those eels living in waters adjacent to industrialized/urbanized areas. Sediments from this area will also be collected and analyzed allowing insight into how PBDEs get from the environment to the organism.
Fall 2005: Oceanography Students Explore Yucatan Peninsula
As part of their coursework, eight students in Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jeff Ashley’s oceanography class recently completed a four-day field excursion to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The students, along with Professor Ashley and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Anne Bockarie, visited just south of Cancun, where they explored the Riviera Maya and the walled city of Tulum. A highlight for students was viewing the remains of the ancient Mexican sea floor preserved by the area’s limestone caves.
Through the experience, students learned more about the sea’s significance to the ancient Mayans and the environment.
Photo: (Back, Left to Right) Alexis Grafton, MaryEllen Favata, Richard Ardito, Kendra Talbott, Sarah Straiton, Joell Miller and Devon Hemsley. (Front Left to Right) Kristin Weissberg, Prof. Ashley, Prof. Bockarie and Jacob Bockarie.
Spring 2005: Non-Science Majors Share
Ten students enrolled in Drs. Jeff Ashley and Anne Bockarie’s new "Exploring Science" course (L314) presented the findings from their community-based project to scientists gathered at the Academy of Natural Sciences on April 22. Students conducted a six-week investigation of lead levels in paint, dust, and soil from various residences in Philadelphia. The presentation was very well attended and students did a wonderful job conveying their scientific research to the audience (largely composed of Academy and EPA scientists). We wish to thank George Buchanan (adjunct shadow) and four science-major peer-mentors (Joell Miller, Evan Halscheid, Amanda Bryant, and Egbert Simon) for their immense contribution to the development and implementation of this new non-majors course. Funding for this course was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Top Left to Right: Daniela Compito, Hasan Alalawi, Andrew Sacco, Jessica Aiken, Sydney Harreys, Diane Fomar, Joell Miller, George Buchanan
Lower Left to Right: Jeff Ashley, Aisling Cooper, Amanda Brynant, Lisa Demski, Lauren Donahue, Lindsey Lewis, Anne Bockari
Spring 2005: Science Major Awarded American Chemical Society's Scholastic Achievement Award
John Heckel, senior (pictured second from right, first row), was honored at the Philadelphia Section of the American Society Society on April 21 at Chestnut Hill College. John was awarded a Scholastic Achievement Award from the society based on his academic record during his college career at Philadelphia University. After graduation this May, John is headed south to attend graduate school at Clemson University.
Spring 2005: Ten Non-Science Majors Take New "Exploring Science" Course
This semester, ten students enrolled in Drs. Jeff Ashley and Anne Bockarie’s new "Exploring Science" course (L314) are learning science the fun way, by actively doing and discussing it. A pilot section of the course, funding by the National Science Foundation, was offered this semester for the first time to those non-science majors who are required to take a science II requirement but have either the choice to take General Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. This course actively engages students in human health related topics that range from obesity and smoking issues to exposure to natural and manmade chemicals like lead and pesticides. Traditional lectures are very few and far between in this course; rather, hands-on experiments, debates, discussions, and engaging exercises that hone information and science literacy skills are used.
Sydney Harris, fashion design major,
adds a toxic
Fall 2004: Science Majors Evaluate Chemical Contamination on Chesapeake Bay Island
This semester, students enrolled in Dr. Jeff Ashley’s “Environmental Chemistry” course ventured to Barren Island, MD – a small island in the Chesapeake Bay that may disappear through erosion is restoration efforts are not continued. To help reduce and stabilize erosion, dredged sediment from local shipping channels was placed on the shoreline. To prevent this sediment from washing away, our students and a host of volunteers lead by the National Aquarium in Baltimore helped plant native marsh grasses which will stabilize the newly placed sediment. Our students went one step further and collected sediment samples for biological, toxicological, and chemical analyses. Data from this investigation show that the dredged sediment placed on Barren Island does not contain considerable levels of contaminants such as heavy metals (for example, lead and chromium).
May 2004:Drs. Ashley and Bockerie Lead Field Course in Yellowstone National Park
Lead by Drs. Jeff Ashley and Anne Bockarie from the School of Science and Health, ten science majors ventured west to Yellowstone National Park in May as part of a field course examining the ecology and chemistry of our nation's first national park. The eight day field course included two days of tracking Yellowstone's wolf packs, white-water rafting down the Yellowstone River, touring the geothermal features of the Park, many informative hikes to examine flora and fauna, and a memorable horseback ride through a mid-May snowfall.
May 2004: Environmental Chemistry Students Take Top Spots in Competition
Environmental Chemistry students Corvo and Willson placed first and third, respectively, in the undergraduate poster session competition held recently at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Hudson-Delaware Chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Sandy Hook, N.J.
March 2004:Env. Chem. Students present results to scientists at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Marsh, Philadelphia, PA!
Photo (from back left to right) Evan Halschied, Kenny Willson, Damien Marycz, Rich Tustin, Luke Bourassa, Joe Corvo (from front left to right) Amanda Bryant, Christina Czarnecki
Philadelphia University science majors, under the direction of Dr. Jeff Ashley (Assistant Professor of Chemistry), used a guided-inquiry, collaborative approach in their environmental chemistry course to consider chemical contamination at two sites within John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Students were invited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff scientists to present their results of this investigation on March 2, 2004 at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. The presentation concluded with a lively discussion between students, Dr. Ashley, and scientists from the Refuge. Congratulations to all students involved for making a difference in the understanding of urban environmental chemistry and ecology in Philadelphia.
May 2003: Biochemistry Major Places Second in Poster Session at Regional Conference
Ms. Erin Laverty, a senior biochemistry major, placed second in the undergraduate poster competition at this year’s annual conference of the Hudson-Delaware chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Pralsville, NJ. During the summer of 2002, Erin conducted research under the direction of Prof. Jeff Ashley, assistant professor of chemistry. The research, funded by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), centered on evaluating the spatial and temporal differences in PCB concentrations in white perch and channel catfish, two important species within the Delaware River estuary. Erin, with collaborators at the Academy of Natural Sciences and University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, found important differences in the way in which these two species bioaccumulate PCBs. We congratulate Erin and wish her the best as she leaves Philadelphia University as a biochemistry graduate.
Summer 2003: Biochemistry Major Conducts Research on Museum's Fish Samples
Mr. Joe Corvo, Biochemistry junior, has been conducting research to see if archived fish samples from the Academy of Natural Sciences' historic collections can be used to shed light on past contamination in the Delaware River (from the 1930s to present). Joe splits his time between the Instrument Laboratory on campus and the Academy of Natural Sciences, a well-known museum and research institution in Center City Philadelphia. A Philadelphia University Summer Research Grant covered Joe's laboratory expenses and summer salary while the university provided free on-campus housing for the summer.
May 2003: Biology major co-authors scientific paper highlighting past summer research
Ms. Andrea Moore, Biology senior, co-authored a paper on contaminants in the Delaware River. Andrea conducted research on nonylphenols, a widely used chemical in industrial detergents, as part of her summer research in the summer of 2001. She later presented her research regionally and most recently nationally (Salt Lake City, UT). The published paper appears in the May issue of Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxcicology.
April 2002: Highlighting the “Discovery” Factor in our Science Laboratory Experiments
Professor Jeff Ashley requires his science majors enrolled in “Instrumental Methods of Analysis” (C193) to perform a “discovery-based” based laboratory that enables them to design, perform, analyze, and present a scientific research project centering on environmental chemistry. From the formulation of a hypothesis to the presentation of findings to the scientific community, discovery-based labs are designed to maximize students’ exposure to the full scientific method, something that is lacking in most weekly “cookie-cutter” laboratory experiments. “The professor steps down from the instructor role and becomes more of a research advisor”, Prof. Ashley explains, “allowing students to probe research issues they are interested in”. Not only are Philadelphia University’s chemistry laboratories used, additionally Prof. Ashley and his students make use of laboratories within the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences. “While at the Academy, the students gain valuable off-campus experience in the real-life setting of a non-profit organization”.
This year, the six-week long project culminated in a group poster presentation at the annual conference of the Hudson-Delaware chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Hackensack, NJ. Philadelphia University students Valerie Braz, Marianne Henderson, Erin Laverty, Tanesha Manning, and Seth Hayik presented their poster entitled Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Pre-Packaged Smoked Salmon. The study determined the levels of PCBs, a class of suspected carcinogenic chemicals banned in the mid-1970s but still ubiquitous, in store-bought smoked salmon. Rest easy, our students found very low levels of these contaminants in this particular fish product. The poster was very well-received by conference attendees and all students involved should be congratulated for their innovative research topic and their professionalism at the conference.
April 2002: Biology Major Places Second at Regional Scientific Conference
Ms. Andrea Moore, a junior biology major, placed second in the undergraduate poster competition at last year’s annual conference of the Hudson-Delaware chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Hackensack, NJ. During the summer of 2001, Andrea conducted research under the direction of Prof. Jeff Ashley, assistant professor of chemistry. The research, funded by a Philadelphia University Summer Research Grant, centered on evaluating nonylphenols in sediments (science talk for mud!) collected from the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. Nonylphenols are ingredients in what are termed surfactants. Basically these are detergent additives used by industry as well as by us. The have fallen under much scrutiny in Europe due to data supporting their ability to mimic estrogen. For example, in English rivers containing high concentrations of nonylphenols, male fish were found to be “feminized” (having traits usually only seen females). Andrea’s work reported the first ever levels of these contaminants in Philadelphia’s rivers. Andrea went on to present her research at the November, 2002 Meeting of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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