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Chemistry Major Received Drinko Research Grant

Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Westminster College sophomore chemistry major Krista Ulisse received an undergraduate research grant from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Ulisse's project, "Analysis of Abnormal Metal Concentrations in Children of Smokers by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS)," is conducted under the supervision of Dr. Helen Boylan, Westminster associate professor of chemistry.

Children of smokers experience several adverse health conditions from exposure to second-hand smoke, including asthma, bacterial meningitis, and respiratory infections.  Abnormal concentrations of metals in their bodies from the smoke exposure may be related to such health effects.  Fingernails provide an easy and accurate resource for analyzing the metal concentrations.

Ulisse's study examines concentrations of selenium, zinc, copper, cadmium, nickel, and lead in preschool children from the local area.  Results of the study are expected to indicate a possible correlation between common illnesses in children of smokers and abnormal metal concentrations.

Ulisse is a daughter of David and Mary Ulisse of Jeannette and a graduate of Penn-Trafford High School.

Contact Boylan at (724) 946-6293 or email for additional information about Ulisse's research. 

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education.  The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences.  Click here for more information about the Drinko Center and its programs.