SRU biology majors present undergraduate research

Onufak at research conference

Aaron Onufrak, a senior from Butler, captured first-place honors at the 25th Annual Sigma Xi Undergraduate Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference April 16.

April 22, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A group of nine Slippery Rock University biology majors recently presented their research findings at the 25th Annual Sigma Xi Undergraduate Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists annual meeting.

Aaron Onufrak, a senior from Butler, captured first-place honors for his poster, "Release rate determination for metal-diffusing substrates for use in acid mine drainage field studies." Onufrak's project entailed designing and evaluating substrates that leak metals to algae, which can be used for bioassays in streams. Onufrak worked with faculty advisers Dean DeNicola, SRU biology professor, and Michael Stapleton, SRU associate professor of geography, geology and the environment, on his project.

Annette Choi, a freshman from South Korea, and Redi Metali, a freshman from Albania placed second with their research poster, "Utilizing live cell imaging in Drosophila cells to identify stressors that induce protein misfolding". The duo's project involved the development of a laboratory exercise in which students observe GFP-tagged HSF binding to the heat shock protein genes in Drosophila salivary glands as an output of stress induced protein misfolding. SRU assistant professors of biology Martin Buckley and Stacy Hrizo, served as their advisers.

Also presenting at the conference were:

  • Brian Merrit, a senior from Kersey, with his poster, "The effect of varying concentrations of melatonin and photoperiod on the anterior regeneration of the aquatic flatworm, Dugesia dorotocephala." Merrit, the recipient of the 2016 Biology Outstanding Senior Award, worked with Simon Beeching, SRU professor of biology, on his research.
  • Laura Johnston, a senior from Blairsville, made an oral presentation on heat shock response in Strongyloides stercoralis. Wayne Forbes, SRU associate professor of biology, served as Johnston's faculty adviser.

Jordan Zajac, a graduate student from Sharon; Alex Berner, a senior from Cranberry Township; Andrew Smith, a senior from Owings Mills, Maryland; and Jacob Bible, a senior from Cranberry Township, joined Choi, Metali and Merrit in presenting on a variety of topics at CPUB. Hrizo, Buckley and Paul Falso, SRU assistant professor of biology, served as faculty advisers.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robert.king@sru.edu