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Students Recognized for Scientific Research

Several Berea College students received awards for their work in physics, environmental science, chemistry and health science at the Kentucky Academy of Science's 2006 Undergraduate Research Competition.

More than 300 research papers were presented in eighteen different disciplines at the KAS Annual Meeting, which was held at Morehead State University. It was the 92nd meeting for KAS, an organization which seeks to encourage scientific research and promote the diffusion of scientific knowledge in Kentucky.

Three of the eighteen first-place winners were students from Berea College. Emilie Throop, a senior biology major from Sewanee, Tenn., was the first-place winner in the Ecology and Environmental Science discipline. During the summer, Throop conducted research on snake predation of grassland birds. As part of her research, she monitored several different bird nests and evaluated the habitat around a nest site to determine if it affected a nest's success.

"It means so much more to do something really productive, but fun, with your summer," says Throop of her project. "I think it reminds you just why you are working so hard during the school year." Throop adds that the research experience is an important part of future plans for science majors because it helps prepare students for graduate school.

Kannatassen Krishen Appavoo took home first place in the Physics and Astronomy category. Appavoo is a junior who is double-majoring in physics and mathematics and minoring in computer science. He came to Berea College from Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean.

Appavoo's research involved studying the effect of cross-sectional geometry of a wire on its conductivity. He and his mentor, Professor Kingshuk Majumdar, wanted to know "how the conductivity of a wire varies if the motion of the electrons found inside the wire is restricted." Since the research was theoretical, Appavoo used the semi-classical Boltzmann Equation to solve for the boundary conditions and help calculate the conductivity of the particular wire under research.

"Being a physics major and computer science minor, this research completely relates to my life," says Appavoo. "It helped to get a glimpse of both worlds and gave me great experience to what research is . Doing research is 'open' and this is completely different from the typical class situation. We had no clue if our results would make sense, but everything went fine."

Another Berea College student who took home an award from the KAS competition was Samuel Adediran, a December 2006 graduate and biology major whose interest lies in cell biology research in terms of biomedical sciences.
Adediran won first place in the Health Sciences category for his presentation on "The Roles of Phospholipases on Reduced Phosphatidylcholine (PC) Levels after Oxygen and Glucose Deprivation in PC12 cells treated with Tricyclodecan-9-yl-xanthogenate (D609)."

"He's studying the events that are occurring at the cellular level, in terms of effects on the brain cell membrane, when somebody suffers a stroke or some other event that causes oxygen deprivation," explained Dr. Dawn Anderson, chair of Berea's biology department. "In order to develop medical treatment, you have to know what's going on at a basic cellular level."

Of Adediran's successful presentation at KAS, Anderson said, "We were really proud of him." Adediran is currently applying to graduate schools.

Kristina Keck, a senior in Chemistry, received third place in Chemistry. She graduated from Berea in December 2006.

For more information on the Kentucky Academy of Science and the KAS Undergraduate Research Competition, visit the link below.

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