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C of I students win Idaho Academy of Science awards

Students from The College of Idaho took home three awards for their outstanding research during the 55th annual symposium of the Idaho Academy of Science.

A dozen C of I undergraduate students presented research projects in botany, ecology, toxicology, astronomy and virology during the annual gathering, which took place March 21-23 in Pocatello.

Taking home the first place award for best poster presentation were biology students Jessica Lambright of Middleton, Anna Chase of Eagle and Kaden Schultz of South Jordan, Utah, for their project “Discovery, Characterization, and Genomic Analysis of Novel Mycobacteriophages.” As part of a national project to better understand soil viruses known as bacteriophages, the C of I students isolated and analyzed the genome of the virus that they discovered and named RhynO. The research has implications for better understanding how phages can infect bacteria that cause human disease and how phages change over time.

Luke Daniels, an assistant professor of biology who advised the student team along with Ann Koga, biology instructor and pre-health professions advisor, said the success of C of I students was especially impressive because they competed with the state’s best undergraduate students as well as master’s and PhD students.

“It's great to have so many College of Idaho students involved in undergraduate research projects,” Daniels said. “Doing hands-on research is an invaluable learning opportunity that helps our students become better at solving problems and thinking critically.”

Additional C of I award winners were Kyle Quinney of Eagle, honored for the top undergraduate oral presentation (third place overall), and Betsaida Chavez-Garcia of Ontario, Ore., and Laura Barbour of Parma, who received the third place award for best poster presentation.

Quinney’s project, “Effects of Cadmium and the Antioxidant N-acetylcysteine in Saos-2 Osteoblast-like Cells,” continued ongoing research at the C of I examining the heavy metal cadmium and bone diseases. Chavez-Garcia and Barbour’s project, “Probable Causes for the Increase of Alders in Succor Creek Canyon Over the Last 50 Years,” demonstrates how land managementpractices, in combination with other environmental factors, can change the composition of plant and animal species present in a desert canyon.

Quinney’s advisor was Sara Heggland, professor of biology, while Chavez-Garcia and Barbour were advised by Eric Yensen, professor of biology.

The Idaho Academy of Science (IAS) was chartered in 1958 to further the cause of science and science education in Idaho. The Academy seeks to promote public understanding and appreciation of the sciences and applied technology in the modern world, and to improve the effectiveness of scientific education in Idaho. More information about the IAS is available at http://www.IDAcadSci.org.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.