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Two Waynesburg University students traveled this summer from their hometowns in Western Pennsylvania to intern at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Both had the opportunity to serve as undergraduate researchers in graduate student laboratories, though in different areas.

Junior Emily Ankrom, a biology major at Waynesburg, worked in the R.B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry, which focuses on DNA nanotechnology.

Ankrom, with the help of a graduate student mentor, spent the summer researching how to visualize DNA liquid crystals. While Ankrom’s classes at Waynesburg significantly helped her understand scientific research concepts, she had little experience with DNA nanotechnology, which she said was one of the biggest difficulties of the internship.

“It was challenging right off the bat to enter into a research lab that focused on subject material almost completely foreign to me,” said Ankrom. “I had to spend quite a lot of time on my own, researching background information and reading scientific papers to understand what I would be doing.”

Thankfully, Ankrom had graduate students in the lab with her to mentor and guide her work. She loved being able to see firsthand how much Purdue’s graduate students and professors love what they do.

Ankrom is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Biology Club at Waynesburg. Other students in those organizations showed her how valuable an undergraduate research position could be and helped her apply. Now that she has research experience under her belt, Ankrom has solidified her aspirations to go to graduate school after Waynesburg.

“Before this research internship, I had no clue what grad school was like,” said Ankrom. “Being able to peer into the landscape of graduate school research has helped me visualize the journey I will be embarking on.”

Sophomore Lauren Petrina also secured a position as an undergraduate researcher at Purdue, but she was placed in a different lab than Ankrom. An engineering-chemistry major, Petrina worked in Professor Hilkka Kenttamaa’s lab, specializing in understanding crude oil.

Petrina entered into her research internship at Purdue just after her freshman year at Waynesburg, an unusual circumstance. Waynesburg professors in charge of the American Chemical Society, of which Petrina is a member, encouraged her to apply, though they warned her that freshmen usually don’t get accepted.

But a few months later, Petrina was in a lab with graduate students, getting more hands-on experience than she ever expected.

“I thought I was just going to be an assistant to the graduate students – that is not the case at all,” said Petrina. “I was able to ask questions, contribute my thoughts and feedback and even make suggestions.”

Petrina’s research included analyzing heavy crude oil to understand whether it can be converted to light crude oil, which is used in cars. Supplies of light crude oil have been depleted, so petroleum companies work with labs like Petrina’s to discover whether heavy crude oil is useful. Petrina said she would not have been able to complete her work without having taken Waynesburg’s organic and inorganic chemistry classes.

Like Ankrom, Petrina said the passion of the graduate students in her lab was evident, and she is grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

“If I decide to go to graduate school, I will already be ahead of the game because I will have had experience in a graduate laboratory,” said Petrina. “All of the knowledge I gained through this internship will be useful for the rest of my life.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Kristen-Wilson.jpgPreparing for a successful future is a major priority for senior chemistry (secondary education) major Kristen Wilson. This summer, she is devoting her time to chemistry education research, which she knows will ultimately benefit her decision to become a high school chemistry teacher. 

Wilson is spending 10 weeks as an undergraduate researcher in chemistry education at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, North Dakota. She is conducting research on data collected by Dr. James Nyachwaya, assistant professor of chemistry education at NDSU and Wilson’s advisor.

In addition to conducting research and analyzing data, Wilson will be attending seminars on education based research and professional development. At the completion of her internship, Wilson will present her final research at a poster session, which she will bring back to Waynesburg.

“The poster will come back to Waynesburg, and if it is exceptional research, I can get additional funding to present the research at national conferences,” said Wilson.

Aside from Wilson’s work, she is taking advantage of networking opportunities with the NDSU faculty. These relationships may have the ability to provide her future career opportunities upon graduating from Waynesburg.

“Opportunities that internships and research open include strengthening research abilities, but this experience is showing me a field of research that I may have never seen,” said Wilson. “It is a very unique type of research that I will be bringing back to Waynesburg when I return in the fall.”

Wilson credits her participation in various Waynesburg activities for helping her have a stronger ability to work closely with others. She is a member of the Commuter Club, Relay for Life and the American Chemical Society (ACS). Wilson has also been inducted into the education honorary society, Kappa Delta Pi, and the chemistry honorary society, Gamma Sigma Epsilon.

“All of these involvements at Waynesburg have helped me become more comfortable with working with others and being a leader,” said Wilson. “They have provided me an opportunity to work closely with other professors and students, which has helped in this internship.”

In particular, Waynesburg’s ACS student chapter has been a great benefit to Wilson’s education. Being involved in the student chapter has introduced her to a lot of chemistry education research.

“Had I not been involved in ACS, I may not have taken an interest or even known this field existed, which, in turn, would not have made me search for opportunities like this one,” said Wilson.

Wilson will serve as the president of the University’s student chapter during the upcoming academic year.

Most of all, Wilson’s chemistry classes at Waynesburg have best prepared her for the work she is doing at NDSU.

“The chemistry classes at Waynesburg have helped me develop the skills needed to find, read and analyze research articles,” said Wilson. “The dedication to research and development of a research project that I had done at Waynesburg helped to prepare me for the expectations that Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, such as this one here at NDSU, expect.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_JK.jpgThree Waynesburg University students attended the American Chemical Society (ACS) Central Eastern Regional Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, in May 2016. Two students, Jelena Kyle and Brandon Bosley, presented research at the conference.

Kyle, a forensic science alumna, presented her poster, “The classification of key odorants in coffee using solid phase microextraction and gas chromatography mass spectrometry.” The goal of her research was to determine what chemically changes in coffee beans over time.

“I not only gained experience from presenting my poster to a large group of professionals, but I also gained a few contacts, as well as some helpful tips as I travel onto graduate school and continue to do research,” said Kyle.

Even though Kyle graduated prior to attending the meeting, she still wanted to go and present her research so that she could continue to support Waynesburg University.

“I have realized now that no matter what, you may leave Waynesburg, but Waynesburg never really leaves you,” said Kyle.

Bosley, a senior forensic science major, presented his research that examined how heat affects the presumptive and confirmatory forensic analysis of human blood. His poster was titled “Does temperature effect confirmatory analysis of blood, red blood cell morphology and DNA degradation.”

“For me, the meeting was important for the biological and medical lectures and how chemistry was involved,” said Bosley. “I am excited to get into my biochemistry and upperclassman biology classes to see how I can tie in the information that I learned at the conference.”

Bosley credits his classes at Waynesburg with enabling him to relate and process the material presented at the conference.

“My upperclassman science classes gave me the background and ability to understand some complex material that the professionals were rattling off like it was everyday language,” said Bosley.

Kristen Wilson, a senior chemistry (secondary education) major, also attended the conference and had the opportunity to network with professionals in the field, learn about the process of conducting research and discover possible graduate school opportunities.

“I gained a lot of knowledge about the chemistry education research that is taking place right now, which helps me understand how the field is growing,” said Wilson. “It also made me more prepared and excited for my Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer at North Dakota State University.”b2ap3_thumbnail_BB_20160711-145956_1.jpg

Wilson insists that her Waynesburg experience has helped her grow as a professional, while building her resume and understanding the value of research, all of which she is excited to bring back to campus.

“I am able to bring back to my classes at Waynesburg an excitement and interest in research that conferences, such as this one, instill in me,” said Wilson.

ACS regional meetings provide a smaller venue than the national meeting and reflect the diverse professional interests of their geographic regions. These meetings feature technical programs on a variety of topics, poster sessions and expositions.

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or


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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-5-ACS-Chapter-Award.jpgWaynesburg University’s American Chemical Society (ACS) student chapter was selected to receive the “Outstanding Award” for the sixth consecutive year. The award, a result of the chapter’s activities for the 2014-15 academic year, was recently presented at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego, California.

The congratulatory letter from ACS President Diane Grob Schmidt read as follows: “Professors Evonne Baldauff and Robert LaCount, faculty advisors of the chapter, deserve special commendation. Few faculty members are willing to make the great commitment of time and energy that a successful chapter requires. Professor Baldauff and Professor LaCount’s efforts certainly represent the best in undergraduate science education and mentoring around the country. We extend our warmest congratulations to the students and Professors Baldauff and LaCount for setting such a fine example for other chapters and being exemplary chemistry ambassadors!”

More than 400 student chapter reports were submitted for review by The Society Committee on Education. There were 314 awards given, including 55 outstanding, 99 commendable and 160 honorable mention awards.

“Winning the outstanding award is a wonderful recognition for the efforts that our students undertake through various activities, events and projects,” said Dr. Evonne Baldauff, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science at Waynesburg University. “Receiving this award also validates that the work we do is meaningful to the audiences we serve, which is very important as we strive to be excellent representatives of the University.”

Led by Baldauff and Dr. Robert LaCount, professor emeritus of chemistry, the student chapter was highly involved in campus and community outreach activities throughout the year, such as monthly labs for homeschooled students, a Haunted Lab open to the campus and local community, among many others. The chapter also assisted with the undergraduate portion of the Central Regional Meeting of the ACS in Pittsburgh.

According to Baldauff, the reviewing committee noted that there were only five weeks out of the academic year when the chapter was not involved in an event or project.

ACS is a congressionally independent membership organization which represents professionals at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry and sciences that involve chemistry.

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or

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Students of Waynesburg University’s Department of Chemistry will travel to the Community College of Allegheny County, South Campus, Saturday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, March 28, to work the Southwestern Pennsylvania Science Bowl. 

The Science Bowl is an academic competition where regional teams from middle and high schools showcase their expertise and compete against one another in a question-and-answer format similar to the television show Jeopardy. Questions cover biology, math, chemistry, physics, energy, and earth and space science. 

The Waynesburg students attending the event will assist in a variety of volunteer work to aid in the planning and execution process. At the event, students will assist with set up, schedule review, prep work, officiating the competition and other additional roles. 

“Volunteering at the Science Bowl engages our students in a situation through which they are able to use their scientific prowess to benefit the community,” said Dr. Evonne Baldauff, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Waynesburg University. “The event requires a lot of coordination and we hope to help in any way that is beneficial.”

In addition to sending volunteers, Waynesburg University is serving as a sponsor for the event. Waynesburg’s sponsorship will help offset the cost of team materials and prizes, lunch and snacks for participants as well as incidental expenses related to maintaining the quality of the event. 

“Waynesburg decided to be a sponsor for the Science Bowl to build excitement for the sciences at the middle school and high school levels,” said Robin King, senior vice president of enrollment and university relations. “I also see this as an opportunity for our students to showcase Waynesburg University while being involved in the event.” 

According to Baldauff, sponsoring and participating in the Science Bowl is a “fantastic” resource to get local middle school and high school students invested in science. She sends volunteers to show Waynesburg University’s support of their efforts.

“When our students volunteer to serve in this capacity, it represents to others the strong commitment that Waynesburg University places on education and involvement in the community,” said Baldauff.

Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

724.852.7675 or

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