Press Release

Research Results

September 20, 2017 – by Cole Hatcher

Joe Emerson (right) discusses his Ohio Wesleyan 10-week summer research experience at the Sept. 18 Patricia Belt Conrades Summer Science Research Symposium. Emerson’s computational study of seizures was mentored by OWU faculty member Christian Fink. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

Ohio Wesleyan Students Present Summer Findings at Symposium

DELAWARE, Ohio – More than 30 Ohio Wesleyan University student-scientists shared the results of their 10-week summer science research and internship projects Sept. 18 at the university’s 25th annual Patricia Belt Conrades Summer Science Research Symposium. 

The students presented information and answered questions about their research findings and internships, which were documented in posters outlining each project. Participating OWU students and their research topics were: 

  • Delanie Baker of Santa Paula, California, studied “Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) Mapping in a Parasexual Species,” exploring genes involved in drug resistance – conducted with researchers at The Ohio State University. 
  • Sarah Bergman of Denver, Colorado; Lauren Boedicker of Wadsworth, Ohio; and James Zoller of Cleveland, Ohio, researched “Development of a Redoxactive Ligand Scaffold for the Activation of Lactide,” seeking to develop a catalyst for producing an environmentally friendly plastic – mentored by OWU faculty member Allen Pistner, Department of Chemistry. 
  • Eva Blockstein of Takoma Park, Maryland, studied “Tropical Amphibian and Reptile Husbandry” – completed as an intern at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. 
  • Madeline Bonfield of Cincinnati, Ohio, studied “Identifying genotype-dependent expression of genes near EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis) risk loci,” exploring the allergic inflammatory disease – conducted with researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 
  • Ana Borish of Westerville, Ohio; Sam Fedoush of Prospect, Ohio; and Maddie Meyer of Marion, Massachusetts, studied “Collecting Ground Control Data for a Study of Plant Gravity Perception on the International Space Station” – mentored by Chris Wolverton, Department of Botany and Microbiology. 
  • Mary Agnes Cranley of Glen Cove, New York, researched “Cas9 Nickase and Knocking Out Gene Expression of Heme Oxygenase-1 In Vero Cells,” exploring the gene’s potential related to treating viral infections – mentored by Suren Ambegaokar, Department of Botany and Microbiology and Program in Neuroscience. 
  • Kyle Davis of Sunbury, Ohio, studied “Size Change in an Old World Sparrow” – mentored by Dustin Reichard, Department of Zoology. 
  • Joe Emerson of Shelby, Ohio, researched “Computational Modeling of Seizure Propagation” – mentored by Christian Fink, Department of Physics and Astronomy and Program in Neuroscience. 
  • Allie Eynon of Dublin, Ohio, and Shelby Quade of Callaway, Maryland, studied “Maintenance of Knowledge (Long-Term Memory)” – mentored by Lynda Hall, Department of Psychology. 
  • Serena George of Palos Park, Illinois, researched “Paternity and Mating Behaviors in the Sailfin Molly (Fish), Poecilia Latipinna” – mentored by Shala Hankison, Department of Zoology. 
  • Aaina Gupta of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and Paige Haenig of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, studied “Functional Morphology of the Placenta in Poeciliopsis Prolifica (Fish),” exploring nutrient exchange – mentored by Tami Panhuis, Department of Zoology. 
  • Peyton Hardesty of Columbus, Ohio, researched “Apprenticing an Apiarist (Beekeeper) at Stratford Ecological Center,” conducted at the Delaware, Ohio, center. 
  • Cindy Huynh of West Chester, Ohio, and Mollie Marshall of Memphis, Tennessee, studied “A Look into the Effects of Prenatal Substance Use Exposure on Developing Infants,” utilizing a questionnaire analysis – mentored by Kira Bailey, Department of Psychology and Program in Neuroscience. 
  • Dianyi Li of Chengdu, China, and Chris Pessell of Cincinnati, Ohio, researched “Production and Routing of Surface Meltwater on the Greenland Ice Sheet Ablation Zone” – mentored by Nathan Amador Rowley, Department of Geology and Geography. 
  • Alec Martin of Glenmont, Ohio, studied “Stellar Surface Imaging via Light Curve Inversion (LI),” using starspots to better understand the sun – mentored by Robert Harmon, Department of Physics and Astronomy. 
  • Ashley McCracken of Chloe, West Virginia, researched “Effect of Electrolysis on S. Aureus Biofilms,” exploring ways to minimize implant-related infections in orthopedic surgery – conducted with researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. 
  • Sydney Quinn of Ostrander, Ohio, researched “Effects of Physiological Stress on hnRNP K Gene Expression in Drosophila Brain,” using fruit flies to explore genes important for the brain to respond to injury, cellular damage, or physiological stress – mentored by Suren Ambegaokar, Department of Botany and Microbiology and Program in Neuroscience. 
  • Derek Shank of Zelienople, Pennsylvania, studied “Utilizing the Cannon (Data Analysis Tool) to Predict Stellar Parameters” – conducted with researchers at the University of Notre Dame. 
  • Aidan Shumaker of Loveland, Ohio, explored “Internship at 3Bar Biologics,” examining the use of beneficial microbes to increase crop yields for farmers – completed as in internship at the Columbus, Ohio-based biologics company. 
  • Erika Shultz of Tiffin, Ohio, researched “Slow Wave Activity as a Marker of Proactive Control,” studying brain responses to tasks involving proactive (vs. reactive) control – mentored by Kira Bailey, Department of Psychology and Program in Neuroscience. 
  • Francesca Socki of Chicago, Illinois, studied “Three-Dimensional Modeling and Morphometric Analysis of the Elaborate Soldier Head in Turtle Ants (Cephalotes)” – conducted with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. 
  • Madeleine Sorrick of Hiram, Ohio, researched “Challenge Accepted: Analysis of Aggression and Hormone Levels in Carolina and House Wrens” – mentored by Dustin Reichard, Department of Zoology. 
  • Diego Venegas Vargas of Fairborn, Ohio, studied “Parity Measurements in the 70Ga Nucleus,” seeking to advance research in nuclear physics – mentored by Robert Haring-Kaye, Department of Physics and Astronomy. 
  • Katie Vonderembse of Toledo, Ohio, researched “Mapping Xylopia (Flowering Plant) Biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa” – mentored by David Johnson and Nancy Murray, Department of Botany and Microbiology. 
  • Gretchen Weaver of Hudson, Ohio, studied “Determination of Early Biochemical Markers in the Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy” – conducted with Louis Stokes VA Cleveland Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. 
  • Ben Whitbourn of Dereham, United Kingdom, researched “Analysis of Cell Division and Development in C. Elegans (Roundworms) and Other Nematodes” – mentored by Danielle Hamill, Department of Zoology. 

Laura Tuhela-Reuning, Ph.D., assistant director of OWU’s Summer Science Research Program, said the program helps to create the next generation of scientists. 

“[S]tudents learn quickly that authentic research is quite different from classroom labs – more challenging, more creative, more frustrating, and, ultimately, more rewarding,” Tuhela-Reuning said. 

Read the full research abstracts prepared by Ohio Wesleyan’s 2017 Summer Science Research Program participants and learn more about the program at

For more information about majoring in the sciences at Ohio Wesleyan, visit

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. 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