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Senior studies effects of ‘forever chemical’ on green bean plant

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Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Kathryn Lynn, a senior biology major from Meadville, Pa., earned a Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research Grant for her capstone research project that examined the effects of a forever chemical on the common green bean plant.

In Lynn’s research project “Perfluorooctanoic Acid Does Not Negatively Impact the Protein Concentration of Phaseolus vulgaris,” she studied the total protein concentration in the common green bean plant—Phaseolus vulgaris—after being exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid—a type of “forever chemical” found in plastics.

Lynn had three treatment groups and followed through harvesting the plants and using the protein extraction kit to ultimately find the total protein content of each plant.

After running statistical tests, Lynn found there was no significant difference between the two variables tested. Although it did not align with her beginning hypothesis, it illustrated a better outcome for the terrestrial plants examined.

“This has allowed me to learn more about research and about analyzing data,” said Lynn. “Just because data is mathematically insignificant does not mean that is a bad thing or that the data is wrong. This has allowed me to become a better presenter and researcher in the lab.”

Lynn conducted her research under the mentorship of Westminster College Professor of Biology Dr. Ann Throckmorton.

Westminster’s Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research helps to financially promote and provide students with a variety of research, scholarly and creative endeavors in all academic disciplines.

For more information on the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, contact Dr. Patrick Lackey at

For more information about Westminster’s biology major, visit