Students Present Research at Academy of Science

Four Wilson College seniors presented the results of their research and one was recognized for her oral presentation at the 94th Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science (PAS), held March 23 to 25 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa.

The following Wilson students presented research: Karis Daniel of Ontario, Canada; Amanda Haase of Culpepper, Va.; Kirstin Lehman of Coopersburg, Pa.; and Deborah Rifflard of Harrisburg, Pa.

Daniel, who is majoring in biology, placed second in the oral presentation category for her research project, “Validating Fecal DNA Technologies for Ungulate Conservation.” Daniel completed the research during the fall 2017 semester while participating in the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Semester Program at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Her researched involved assessing validity and integrity of fecal DNA for two critically endangered ungulate (hoofed mammal) species.

Haase, a biology and chemistry major, presented her research project, “Comparison of Factors that Affect the Ethanol Concentration in Blood during Putrefaction.”

Lehman, who is majoring in biology and veterinary medical technology, presented her research project, “Investigation of Possible Points of Contamination by Lactobacillus and Pediococcus in a Microbrewery.” Lehman received Wilson’s E. Grace White Summer Scholarship last year in support of her undergraduate research, which was done in collaboration with Chris Collier, brewmaster at the Roy Pitz Brewing Co. in Chambersburg.

Rifflard, a biology major, presented research on “The Effects of Probiotics on Canine Weight and Fecal Fat Content.” Rifflard, who also received the E. Grace White Summer Scholarship to support her undergraduate research, is the recipient the Wilson’s Margaret Criswell Disert Honors Scholarship.

The students were accompanied to PAS by Wilson Professors Deb Austin, Abigail Berkey, Brad Engle, Dana Harriger, Tonia Hess-Kling, Katie Sarachan and Bradley Stiles.

PAS judges oral presentations and posters, providing monetary awards for the top three places in each category. It judges oral presentations in categories for scientific merit–ranging from experimental methodologies to analysis of results–and presentation qualities, including visual impact and fielding of questions. The overall score is reflective of all subcategories.

At Wilson, students begin their projects in the spring of their junior year by writing a research proposal based on a specific question that they are interested in studying. In the subsequent fall semester, they complete lab work and collect data. This semester, the students have been focused on data analysis, writing a thesis and preparing to communicate their results at PAS.

Students will share their results of their research during Wilson’s annual Student Research Day on April 27.

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