On Friday, October 26, 2018, Dr. J. Ed Schnieder, East Georgia State College Associate Professor of Biology, and two EGSC students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Biology degree program attended the 7th Annual Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium at Albany State University in Albany, Ga. The students, Amber Brown and Blaine Bellflower, are both scheduled to graduate with their Bachelor of Science in Biology degree in December of 2018. They both presented posters and oral presentations of their research.
Brown’s research was “Octanol-Water Extraction of Chlorophyll and Phycocyanin in Cyanobacteria.” She performed this research in Spring of 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Schnieder. The common method for tracking algae species is measurements of chlorophyll and phycocyanin, which is a marker for the presence of cyanobacteria. These two pigments were previously extracted by separate methods. The goal of this research was to show that both pigments could be extracted simultaneously in a two-phase system composed of water an octanol, as chlorophyll is hydrophobic and will dissolve in organic solvents.
“Leading up to the symposium, I was a little anxious because I had no idea what to expect,” said Brown. “Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I’m glad I participated. I was able to have social interactions with a diverse group of individuals who have similar goals. I got some valuable feedback from the judges that I would not otherwise have gotten had I not participated. This will help me in the future if I ever decide to have a career in research.”
Bellflower presented the results from his internship during the Summer of 2018 at Husqvarna in McRae, Ga. His presentation was “Wastewater Treatment in the Industrial Setting.” Bellflower discussed the process involved in removing zinc and other heavy metals from the water used on production lines within an industrial plant. Removing zinc from wastewater is very important as levels of zinc can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. In addition, extremely high levels of zinc in the body can cause damage to the pancreas and even arteriosclerosis. Bellflower placed third in the STEM Oral Presentation Awards.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Fall 2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium,” Bellflower said. “I had a great opportunity to learn about numerous branches of science and some of the cutting-edge research that is going on right now. I also had the chance to meet and establish connections with many students like myself, as well as faculty members and researchers from around the southern region. I am thankful for East Georgia State College for allowing me to take part in such an awesome event.”
Dr. Schnieder congratulated Bellflower on placing third in the competition. “Student research and internships with local businesses are part of the Baccalaureate Biology program at EGSC,” he said. “Presentations of research results are also part of the Professional Skills for Biologists course that I taught during Fall 2018.”
Dr. David Chevalier, Chair of Biology at EGSC, added, “I am very proud of both students for attending and representing EGSC and its Biology Program at this meeting. Presenting at a scientific meeting is the culmination of undergraduate research.”