Press Release

April 19, 2016 | By Cole Hatcher

Jemil Ahmed '17 (Photo by Jessica Vogel)

Ohio Wesleyan Student Wins Microbiology Research Award

Jemil Ahmed’s Work Examines Antiviral Properties of the Spice Turmeric

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University student Jemil Ahmed has earned an award from the Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology for his research into how an extract from the spice turmeric may aid severely ill animals.

Ahmed, a junior biology major from Ethiopia, is working with OWU faculty mentor Suren Ambegaokar, Ph.D., to study how different concentrations of curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric, affects laboratory-maintained cell lines infected with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). The virus can cause severe illness in animals and livestock, including horses, cattle, and sheep.

“Our preliminary data suggests that infection was reduced significantly in cells treated with curcumin,” Ahmed states in his research abstract. “This work will better inform our understanding of VSV pathology, and the potential use of curcumin as an antiviral therapeutic.”

For his work, Ahmed has earned the 2016 Allan A. Ichida Undergraduate Research Excellence: Best Undergraduate Poster Award from the Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. The award was announced April 9 at The Procter and Gamble Co. headquarters in Mason, Ohio.

The award is named in memory of Ichida, a 1953 Ohio Wesleyan alumnus and OWU botany professor from 1961 to 1995. Ichida also served as president of the Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. His water-quality research helped to secure “scenic river status” for the Olentangy River, located near the Ohio Wesleyan campus.

The American Society for Microbiology, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the largest life science membership organization in the world, with more than 39,000 members. Its mission is to advance the microbial sciences. Learn more at

 Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Botany/Microbiology at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 87 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,675 students represent 43 U.S. states and territories and 33 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at