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Four Westminster students present at Sigma Xi research conference

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Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2022

Four Westminster students from the Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry attended the Sigma Xi Conference on Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishments at Penn State Behrend on Saturday, April 23.

The Sigma Xi Conference provides students with the opportunity to present research and creative accomplishments in a public setting, with some using the conference to practice prior to presenting at the national or international level.

Westminster students who attended the conference included seniors Jenna Toohey, a biochemistry major from Mt. Pleasant, Pa.; Sydney Rankin, a biochemistry major from Emlenton, Pa.; Riana Smith, a chemistry major from Kane, Pa.; and Jacob Musselman, an individual interdisciplinary major from Denver, Pa.

Toohey, who took first place in the chemistry poster presentations, presented her research “The Effects of Confinement and Molecular Regulation on Biomineralization.” Her research of biomineralization—the process where inorganic hydroxyapatite crystal deposits within the bone matrix—was used to mimic the bone matrix in vitro. She then performed experiments to collect minerals for further analysis using IR spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopes (TEM).

Musselman’s research “Analysis of Antioxidant Levels in Commercial and Locally Brewed Beer,” presented as a poster presentation, focused on quantifying the antioxidant content in beer and comparing the content between different beer types and the different brewing processes.

Rankin’s research “Comparison of Antimicrobial Activity in Home-Brewed and Store Bought Kombucha Using the Specimen Escherichia coli,” was an oral presentation comparing store-bought and home brewed kombucha to determine which is healthier for the consumer.

Smith also did an oral presentation for her research “The Search for Pyruvic Acid in the Interstellar Medium,” in which she used the Global Optimizations and Broadband Analysis Software for Interstellar Chemistry (GOBASIC) to take previously fit results from a set of observational spectral line surveys of molecule-rich sources and searched for matches to the millimeter/sub-millimeter wave spectrum of pyruvic acid.

For more information on the biochemistry department, click here. For more information on the chemistry department, click here.