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St. Olaf students honored at undergraduate research symposium

Kate Seybold ’15 explains her findings at the Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium. The Minnesota Academy of Science awarded her the Arthur N. Wilcox Award for Excellence in Ecology and Environmental Science.

Three St. Olaf College students were honored by the Minnesota Academy of Science for their research achievements at the Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Kate Seybold ’15 received the Arthur N. Wilcox Award for Excellence in Ecology and Environmental Science, and the team of Dylan Leonard ’16 and Miles Smith ’16 received the Thomas B. Magath Award for Excellence in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Five other students from St. Olaf — Nora Flynn ’15, Malika Jaiswal-Dale ’16, Sievhong Penn ’15, Emily Patterson ’15, and Lauren Roelike ’16 — also presented research at the symposium.

Seybold worked with St. Olaf Professor of Biology Kathleen Shea on a study of nitrogen fertilizer and nitrification inhibitors on soil nutrients, yield, and profit in southeastern Minnesota cornfields. The research evaluated two strategies for improving nitrogen management to reduce excess nitrogen use. Using four fertilizer rates and a nitrification inhibitor, Seybold determined that the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor varied depending on the fertilizer rate. “The most cost-effective strategy for improving nitrogen management was to apply less fertilizer,” she says.

Leonard and Smith, advised by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Biology Lisa Bowers, examined if the presence of essential heavy metals in the growth media for Caulobacter crescentus, a bacterium, regulated the expression of three putative TonB dependent receptors. The results of the study contribute to understanding TonB-dependent receptors in C. crescentus and related human and animal pathogens.

The 28th Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium was held in conjunction with the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Academy of Science. At the symposium, students presented research on topics ranging from cellular and molecular biology to physics and computer science.

In addition to the presentations, students attended a keynote lecture on Building Cell Simulators by University of Minnesota Professor of Biomedical Engineering David Odde.