Two Students to Present Research at Scholars at the Capitol Feb. 19

Two University of St. Thomas students will present results of their scholarship at the 10th annual Private College Scholars at the Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 19.

The event, which will be held in the state Capitol’s rotunda, celebrates the research of Minnesota's private college students. Thirty-seven students from 15 private colleges and universities will display and present 28 posters describing their research in various disciplines.

Sam Jensen and Julie Rech, both seniors, will represent St. Thomas at Scholars at the Capitol. Faculty advisers also are invited to participate.

The Minnesota Private College Council is the primary sponsor of the event. Each college selects and sends its own students to the event. Students will present to visitors in the rotunda from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Research Summaries

Assessing Estrogenic and Androgenic Activity of UV Filter Photoproducts

By Sam Jensen
Faculty advisers: Dr. Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt, Biology; Dr. Kristine Wammer, Chemistry

Previous research suggests that some UV filters commonly used as active ingredients in sunscreens may exhibit estrogenic or androgenic activity and produce photoproducts that are also potential endocrine disruptors. Here, UV filters were exposed to simulated sunlight to generate photoproduct mixtures and characterized by HPLC and LC-MS. Mixtures were screened for endocrine activity using two transcriptional assays. The endocrine activities of the samples were interpolated by a least-squares means procedure from a nonlinear sigmoidal dose response curve fit to the relative luminescence units of the estradiol/testosterone standards. Octyl methoxycinnamate (octinoxate) and a mixture of its photoproducts exhibited androgenic activity in vitro; one active photoproduct (4-methoxybenzaldehyde) has been identified. Octyl dimethyl para-aminobenzoic acid (padimate O) had no androgenic activity in vitro, whereas a mixture of its photoproducts was found to have activity. Utilizing flash chromatography, present work is focused on isolating and identifying the active photoproduct(s).

Great River Greening: Managing Environmental Data and Evaluating Restored Landscapes

By Julie Rech
Faculty adviser: Dr. Paul Lorah, Geography

As the significance of Earth’s natural landscapes gains increasing acknowledgment, many people are beginning to actively work toward making remedial environmental changes. With these efforts comes the question of how to measure a conservation project’s success. Great River Greening is a nonprofit organization promoting and leading volunteer and community-based restorative projects in Minnesota. It has been asking this question and is interested in understanding its projects’ successes. In partnership with this organization, field research was undertaken by studying its existing sites; further work was done in its office and at the University of St. Thomas GIS Lab, where the organization’s data was managed. Evaluations were collected, datasets were formatted and geodatabases were built. This project also had a marketing aspect, which yielded informational maps and graphics for the organization’s use. Ultimately, this project’s value will lie in its potential future use for evaluations of project sites and maps and for marketing.

Abstracts of all 28 of the research presentations can be viewed in the Scholars at the Capitol abstract booklet.

The Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) represents 17 liberal arts colleges and universities with 60,000 students. These institutions award about 30 percent of the baccalaureate degrees in the state. The organization’s mission is to advocate for high-quality private higher education.

Editor's note: The research of Sam Jensen and Julie Rech was conducted with assistance from the Grants and Research Office’s Young Scholars Grant Program, Community Based Research Grant Program and Student Travel Grant Program.