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Three Olivet students awarded 2014 summer research grants

Posted: May 29, 2014

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"Summer research is not just about sitting in a lab." — Curtis Groover

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Curtis and Dr. Long work with collections of cells instead of with furry, fully-developed hamsters.

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"This is one picture I wanted to take." — Curtis Groover

Reed Hall of Science won’t be void of study — or laughter — this summer. Cell lab 119 will be especially jovial while biology professor Dr. Gregory Long and student researcher Curtis Groover work together to solve complex scientific riddles.

“Curtis is known around here as a goofball, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he researches,” says Dr. Long.

Curtis is a biology major from Avon, Indiana, and one of three Olivet students chosen for the 2014 Elbert Pence and Fanny Boyce Undergraduate Summer Research Experience Grant. Funded by alumni and friends of Olivet, the summer research program honors two former faculty members, physics professor Elbert Pence and mathematics professor Fanny Boyce.

Students chosen for research are paired with faculty members in order to pose a question that, according to Dr. Long, can “actually be solved.” Curtis, for example, will be studying hamster cells and what effects metals have on their ability to live and function. He thought of this project after Dr. Long set parameters and helped him brainstorm.

At the end of 10 weeks, students are required to write a paper, present what they discovered, and create a poster which will be displayed during Homecoming week in the fall.

The recipients and their projects for the summer of 2014 include:

• Curtis and Dr. Long: “Concentrations of heavy metals inducing apoptosis and necrosis in baby hamster kidney cells”

Amy Brenner (Lansing, Michigan) and biology professor Dr. Aggie Veld: “Connections between the effects of various chemicals on the development of Drosophila melanogaster and Homo sapiens

Brian Pickering (Chebanse, Illinois) and biology professor Dr. Dan Sharda: “Toll-like receptor 4 activation of non-canonical signaling pathways modulates mitochondrial respiration”

Visiting Dr. Long and Curtis Groover in Reed clarifies two things. One, they work with collections of cells instead of with furry, fully-developed hamsters. Two, according to Curtis, research is not just about sitting in a lab. He describes the hours of intellectual discussion required for this type of research, which means a significant amount of time is spent in Dr. Long’s office.

“It requires a lot of this,” adds Dr. Long, tapping his temple with both index fingers.

“I always thought that the student would just help the professor out,” says Curtis, “but I actually get to do it on my own, which is cool.”