Students, faculty attend Oklahoma Research Day

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Students, faculty attend Oklahoma Research Day

December 1, 2009

 Chemisty Research Day attendees
Northwestern representatives (from left) Chrystal Benson, Brenna Beeler, Dr. Cornelia Mihai, Alyssa Logsdon and Sean McAnarney presented their poster with 1,300 other research posters during Oklahoma’s annual Research Day.

Students and faculty members of the biology and chemistry departments at Northwestern Oklahoma State University recently attended Oklahoma Research Day held at Northeastern State University.

Oklahoma Research Day is a chance for faculty and students to showcase their current research through submission of an abstract and a poster presentation.

Dr. Cornelia Mihai, assistant professor of chemistry, along with four Northwestern students Chrystal Benson, Alva junior; Brenna Beeler, Winchester, Ky., junior; Alyssa Logsdon, Alva senior; and Sean McAnarney, Medicine Lodge, Kan., post-graduate, presented “Synthesis of Precursors of New Dihydrofolate Reductase Substrate Analogs Modified at the para-Aminobenzoyl Moiety.”

The topic of this research project focused on synthesis of several modified folic acids. Once synthesized, the new compounds would be used to study the mechanism of an enzyme, dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). DHFR is one of the most important enzymes involved in DNA biosynthesis and an important clinical target. The new compounds might be of unique medical importance.

 Dr. Aaron Place
Dr. Aaron Place, assistant professor of biology, presented a poster titled, “The Evolution of Diet in Rattlesnakes” during Oklahoma Research Day. The poster was a continuation of an extended example he used in the Biological Evolution class he taught in the spring. The project looked at how a rattlesnake’s head size, fang length, venom composition and body size influenced its diet. His hypothesis was snakes with larger heads, longer fangs, larger body size and more potent venom would exhibit a larger percentage of mammals and birds in their diet.

To test the hypotheses, Place superimposed the diet data and the body or venom data on the family tree of about 20 species of rattlesnakes from North America and Mexico. He found that head length and fang length were significant predictors of the percentage of birds and mammals in the diet. The other variables were not significantly related to diet, though additional data is needed for several species of rattlesnakes.

 Dr. Aaron Place and Johnathon Oswald
Dr. Aaron Place and Johnathan Oswald are photographed by their research project, “Muscle Physiology.” Place served as Oswald’s mentor/adviser during the research project.
Johnathon Oswald, Alva senior, represented Northwestern with his research project titled “Muscle Physiology,” which focused on the muscles that make up the tail shaker of a western diamondback rattlesnake and the effects of prolonged rattling. His poster also was part of Research Day at the State Capitol last year.

Oswald worked with Place on the project. It began as an independent study project, and then turned into an in-depth research project.

Oklahoma Research Day is a consortium event coordinated by Oklahoma's Regional Universities. It is funded by Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma Experimental Program for Stimulating Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - National Science Foundation, Idea Network for Biomedical Research Experience (INBRE) - National Institutes of Health and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). This event is more than merely a celebration of their research, creative and scholarly activities. It is also an opportunity for students and faculty from multiple institutions to interact with counterparts in their respective disciplines. Oklahoma Research Day is the premier academic research event in the State.