2018 Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium projects on display

Our 2018 Annual meeting/Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium was held Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the University of St. Thomas 

 Winchell research projects conducted in 2018 by undergraduates throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, were presented April 21, 2018, at the University of St. Thomas.



A few of the Winchell research projects conducted this year by undergraduates throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, which were presented April 22, 2017, at Macalester College.

 A Mayo Clinic doctor had samples but not enough time to make use of them for a theory. Students Joey Murdock and Hannah Hartog at Concordia University's Department of Biology were looking for a research project. Advisor Mary Ann Yang was the middle person and mentor who put the team together. The result: "Differential protein expression comparison between fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma patient versus normal subject." Can proteomic screening on FC-HCC tumor samples reliably be identified through differential expression of proteins utilizing western blot analysis?

What are the variables that make microspheres dependable vehicles for controlled dosage of medicinal drugs? Daniel Sievert (advisor Kenneth Rohly) of Bethel University's Chemistry Department tested time, amount of organic solvent, amount of aqueous solvent, amount of drug, spin and other variables to maximize the size of microspheres. How well is the chloroquine released based on the variables? That was the subject of "Optimization of polycaprolactone microsphere size through synthesis manipulation."



Nanotubes, molecular sensors, thin films and field-effect transistors might benefit from the use of triimdes as a tool of sustainable engineering, compared to the electron-conducting properties of aromatic diimides. Can mellitic triimdes be stacked and assembled to form supramolecular structures? That's what Kofi Ofosu (with advisor Dennis Cao) of Macalester College's Department of Chemistry sought to find out with "Synthesis, characterization and electrochemistry of mellitic triimides."


With the loss of green space worldwide, what are the benefits of green roof systems? Whitney Gearhart, Paige Ohlund, Jocelyn Wiegand (advisor Jane Wattrus) of College of St. Scholastica's Department of Biology studied "Effect of moisture differences on soil microarthropod abundance, and diversity of green roof systems." Green roof beds that received no supplemental watering had higher abundances of microarthropods as well as more species diversity. Their data provided implications on how to better maintain green roof systems in order to maximize environmental benefits.

  St. Olaf students have had a rich opportunity to explore environmental variables on agriculture. Thomas Knee (Kathleen Shea, advisor) studied "Disturbance in prairie ecosystems: the effects of fire on restored prairies in southeastern Minnesota." Since 1989 St. Olaf has restored about 61 hectares of agricultural land to prairie to conserve biodiversity; each section of St. Olaf prairie is burned every two to five years. How does species diversity, soil moisture, organic matter and nitrates vary in these sections, and why?

Margaret Noun (Kathleen Shea, advisor) examined "Effects of land management and agriculture on Rice and Heath Creek in Southeastern Minnesota." What are the effects of riparian buffers on water quality and macroinvertebrate diversity in a spring-fed stream and a lake-fed stream? Does proximity to agricultural fields make a difference? 


Can a low-cost microbial fuel cell be constructed using a strip of copper, aluminum, a potted plant and simple electronics? The team of Ariya Ishida and Shane Kosieradzki (advisor Bruce Bolon) of Hamline University's Physics Department generated power using plant waste as nutrients for anaerobic bacterial respiration within the soil.

In "Hydrothermal synthesis and characterization of two-dimensional tin sulfide nanosheets," Elizabeth Juarez Diaz (advisor John Dwyer) of St. Catherine University's Chemistry Department repots on efforts to synthesize nanosheets of tin monosulfide via a green hydrothermal synthesis, and strategies to controllably produce single- or few-layer nanosheets with large lateral dimensions.

With antibiotic resistance worsening globally, can bacterial cultures grown in nutrient broth solutions trigger antibiotic production? Brandon O'Connor (advisor Mitchell Maddox) of Bethel University's Chemistry Department looked at "Isolation of active compounds in antibiotic-producing bacteria."

Protein Farnesyltransferase has been successful in transferring non-natural substrates to Ras proteins — mutated in up to 30 percent of human cancers — using copper-catalyzed click chemistry. However, that process is toxic to living cells. In this research a bioorthogonal PFTase substrted was synthesized that does not require a copper catalyst. Shelby Auger (advisor James Wollack) of St. Catherine's Department of Chemistry presented her results, "Synthesis of a PFTase substrate containing a terminal olefin capable of tetrazine ligation."


How can 3D printing be designed with an optical cage system and accessories that is printable on any entry-level commercially available 3D printer at a much lower cost? David Shepler (advisor Brandon Winters) of Bethel University's Department of Chemistry created something for just under $60, compared to a high-end model of $430, for a two-foot section that could be used widely at schools.

The Carleton College Department of Biology team of Jackson Raynor, Sandy Carson and Apoorva Handigol (advisor Debby Walser-Kuntz) collected data demonstrating that BPA exposure during early zebrafish development alters baseline innate immune signaling as well as injury responses.

Current Minnesota rules require septic tank capacity to increase by 50 percent with the installation of food waste disposal because it may induce sludge accumulation and deteriorate tank effluent. Maneewan Sinchai (advisor Bo Hu), from the University of Minnesota's Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, explored "Degradation of food waste in simulated septic tank," finding a marginal reduction in water quality with food waste, without a negative impact on septic tank performance. Sludge accumulation from food waste was evident, but also without a significant difference between septic tank with sewage and that with additional food waste. A possible result of her research, she suggested, is improvement in regulations around septic tanks, used by more than 20 percent of U.S. households to treat wastewater. 

Thanks to our Winchell Symposium sponsors!

  • Donation in memory of former Minnesota Academy of Science Executive Director M.I. (Buzz) Harrigan
  • American Chemical Society
  • Bethel University Natural and Behavioral Sciences
  • Carleton College Department of Chemistry
  • College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Department of Chemistry
  • Hamline University Chemistry Department
  • Hardenbergh Foundation
  • Macalester College Department of Biology
  • Macalester College Chemistry Department
  • Minnesota State University – Mankato Department of Biological Sciences
  • St. Catherine University School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences
  • St. Olaf College Department of Economics
  • St. Olaf College Natural Sciences and Math
  • Tribeta
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth College of Pharmacy
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities College of Biological Sciences Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering Department of Chemistry 
  • University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering – Dr. Ronald Poling, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • University of St. Thomas Biology Department