Two LCSC students earn SETAC honors
Two Lewis-Clark State College students in the Natural Sciences Division placed in the top three in their respective divisions at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s (SETAC) national conference in Tampa, Fla.
Susan Oyen, a senior from Lapwai who is majoring in Chemistry and Biology, won the best overall student poster award. Ashley Schneider from Battle Creek, Neb., a sophomore Biology major won third place in platform presentations at the week-long conference.
Oyen presented a poster entitled “Use of a Modeling System to Evaluate the Bioaccumulation of Contaminants in Food Chains.” Oyen used the idea of taking a computer model and inputting information using certain amounts of chemicals that a prey animal may have in its system. This could then be used to predict the chemical load that may result in a predator after it has consumed the prey. Oyen’s model uses previously published data to measure how much of the chemical is passed on from prey to predator. This model was validated with data collected from studies of earthworms and salamanders and provided scientific data without the further sacrifice of animals.
Their research advisor, LCSC assistant professor of Biology Heather Henson-Ramsey, said there were more than 100 student poster presentations and Oyen’s was judged as the best undergraduate poster.
Schneider gave a talk presentation on “Bio-markers of Organophosphate Exposure and Effect in Lumbricus terrestris and Eisenia foetida.” Lumbricus terrestris is the scientific name for night crawlers and Eisenia foetida are red wiggler earthworms. Schneider’s presentation looked at the insecticide malathion that is sprayed on apples and fruit crops and is also commonly used to control mosquitoes. There are good tests to show if someone has been exposed to malathion, but it’s not easy to tell how much of the insecticide has been absorbed into the their body. Schneider discussed the use of enzymes that break down malathion as a measure of how much of the chemical has been absorbed by the animal.
SETAC is a not-for-profit, worldwide professional organization comprised of individuals and institutions dedicated to the study, analysis and solution of environmental problems, the management and regulation of natural resources, research and development and environmental education. SETAC’s mission is to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. SETAC holds international, national and regional meetings every year. For the national meeting, students entering any of the contests had to submit an abstract for approval prior to presentation.
The trip to the conference for Oyen, Schneider, and Dr. Henson-Ramsey was paid for by a grant from the Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), which is designed to provide great research opportunities for faculty and students at all Idaho colleges.