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MC Seniors Present Science Research

posted Apr 11, 2011 in ACADEMICS


Nine McPherson College seniors will present the results of their final research projects on April 15, and the studies range from investigating zebra mussels in Kansas lakes to learning how high school students cope with adversity to testing for athlete’s foot fungus in campus showers.

The annual Natural Science Research Forum will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Mingenback Theatre and is free and open to the public.

Dr. Allan Ayella, assistant professor of biology, said that undergraduate research is an important and valuable part of a natural sciences education at McPherson College.

“The mandatory two years of research that natural science students complete at McPherson College gives them an edge over other undergraduate science majors, who in most colleges are not required to do research in order to graduate,” he said.

The results of the students’ research is as follows:

Amanda Aragon, Thornton, Colo.: Aragon studied the abdominal strength of the McPherson College women’s soccer team and found a link between abdominal strength and increased speed while sprinting 40 yards and at 200 yards. However, there was not a correlation found for a 100 yard sprint.

Karissa Ferrell, North Las Vegas, Nev.: Ferrell studied a drug-resistant strain of staph bacteria, known by the abbreviation MRSA. Ferrell took samples from McPherson College and from a local family practice clinic/hospital. The prepared samples from the college were compromised, so Ferrell compared the clinic results to another student’s samples taken from a local elementary school. Ferrell discovered that MRSA was more prevalent in the elementary school – with 49 percent of samples positive for MRSA – than in the hospital setting, with 16 percent.

Austin Froese, Inman, Kan.: Froese studied a specific pigment protein in the eyes of wild fruit flies that allows them to see into the ultraviolet. He then performed the same test with a mutant fruit fly variety called “white apricot.” He found that there were similar amounts of the pigment proteins in both the wild and mutant fruit fly varieties.

Kelly Green, Brighton, Colo.: Green also studied the drug-resistant staph bacteria MRSA, comparing the prevalence of it in both a clinical and elementary school setting. She also discovered that MRSA was more prevalent in a community setting at 49 percent compared to 16 percent in a clinical setting.

Dylan Jandreau, Greeley, Colo.: Jandreau took samples from 32 showers in McPherson College dorms and tested for the presence of tinea pedis – the fungus that creates athlete’s foot, jock’s itch and ringworm in humans. The fungus was found in only one instance.

Zachlery Hlad, Ellsworth, Kan.: Hlad surveyed rocky, marina and sandy habitats in two Kansas lakes for the presence of zebra mussels – a non-native invasive species. He found presence of the mussels in Wilson Lake primarily in a rocky habitat, but also in a marina habitat; no samples were found in Kanopolis Lake. The study helps to show that the mussels, which used to be found primarily on the east coast, are showing up in Midwest lakes now as well.

Christover Lange, Oklahoma City, Okla.: Lange tested lung capacity of 15 McPherson College students and compared the results to their gender, height, weight and self-reported physical activity. With the exception of a few outliers, it confirmed the theory that lung capacity and body size are closely related.

Tecie Turner, Scott City, Kan.: Turner used a standard questionnaire and open-ended questions to see how high school freshmen compare to high school seniors in their ability to cope with adversity on their own (known as coping self-efficacy). She found that seniors coped better than freshman, mostly because of more resourcefulness and persistence and the ability to have more personal experience to draw from in coping.

Ashley Zodrow, Chapman, Kan.: Zodrow investigated concerns that using standard laboratory cultures in testing contact lens disinfecting solution is not providing useful results. To address this, she tested four common solutions in bacterial samples gathered from the “real world” – including bacteria from an eye infection and two samples taken from non-organic surfaces. While all four solutions were effective against the bacteria from an eye infection, all four failed to be effective when used against the other two samples.


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