Ohio University

Chemical engineering students receive funding for bioengineering research

Author: Megan Reed

PURF awardees
SAFETY NOTE: Goggles are not required for this procedure at this Edison Biotechnology Center lab, a Biosafety Level (BSL-1) labo

Photos by Ashley Stottlemyer

Two chemical engineering students have received grants from the Ohio University Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fund for their research that aims to combat cancer and boost antibiotics.

Junior Nathan Arnett, from Lucasville, Ohio, and senior Hannah Cherry, from Jamison, Pa., were two of the 41 students selected for the fund, which is open to students from all disciplines and awards students with up to $1,500 for their research and creative activity.

Arnett, whose faculty mentor is Professor of Molecular Biology John Kopchick, the Milton and Lawrence H. Goll Eminent Scholar, is researching the effect of growth hormone action on melanoma cells. He’ll be treating cells with different levels of growth hormone to determine the relationship between the growth hormone action and cell growth, with the goal of reducing or "knocking down" the growth hormone receptor.

"Some research shows that growth hormone action has an effect on cancer cell proliferation, growth and viability," said Arnett, who hopes to attend medical school to further his research. "Melanoma is the fifth leading cancer in men and seventh leading in women, so it’s an important thing that we want to look into."

Cherry, also an aspiring doctor, is working with her faculty mentor Professor of Biomedical Engineering Jennifer Hines to research antibacterial resistance. She wants to create new peptides that will bind to non-coding RNA, increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics and helping to treat genetic disorders, bacterial infections and cancer. According to Cherry, many drugs have become less effective as bacteria have adapted and mutated, and this method is a relatively new approach to combating the issue.

"It’s such a new field, and I think the possibilities are endless," she said.

Cherry noted that what she has learned at OHIO has prepared her to be a physician.

"I want to use some of the lessons and techniques I’ve learned through my research with Dr. Hines to be able to do clinical research and partner with a Ph.D. once I’m actually a doctor out in the field," she said.

Chemical engineering undergrads Hannah Cherry and Nathan Arnett
Chemical engineering undergrads Hannah Cherry and Nathan Arnett hope their research will help combat cancer and other diseases.