By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Meeta Cesler-Maloney and Angela Sabo of IU Southeast are finalists for the Best Undergraduate Research Project Award to be given at the upcoming IU Undergraduate Research Conference (IUURC) in Indianapolis, Ind. on Friday, Nov. 17.
The IUURC, established in 1994, is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study performed in partnership with faculty or other mentors as a vital component of an Indiana University undergraduate education.
The annual conference gives undergraduates from across the IU system an opportunity to present their research via oral and poster presentations.
IU Southeast, with its emphasis on involving undergraduates in real research early in their college careers, always sends a strong contingent to the event. This year is no exception, with 72 students and 52 presentations. Support and guidance have been provided by 16 faculty mentors.
As finalists, Cesler-Maloney and Sabo will make two oral presentations: a ten-minute presentation to the conference, and a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges who will be selecting the award winner.
Cesler-Maloney, a senior from Louisville majoring in geology and chemistry, is presenting her work, “Quantifying the relationship between ozone and meteorology during the Arctic spring.”
The work examines the impact of ozone depletion on the lifetime of pollution in the Arctic atmosphere.
“The study of ozone depletion during the Arctic spring is a relatively new topic and the developments made since the 1980s have been really interesting,” Cesler-Maloney said. “It’s also interesting that collaborators across the field are working together to gather new information in order to better understand processes in the area.”
Cesler-Maloney sought out this project because she wanted to gain experience in data processing and statistical analysis. She has learned how to use R software for statistical analysis and is working with O-dimensional chemical modeling software to model chemistry in the Arctic, in order to compare results to experimental measurements.
She has also learned to deal with the frustration that comes from investing time and energy in a direction that proves to be wrong, but has come to embrace trial and error as a motivation that excites her to continue her work.
Cesler-Maloney intends to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry, and seek out a post-doctoral position at a university or research institute where her skills may contribute to advances in atmospheric chemistry.
Sabo, a senior from Mitchell, Ind. majoring in biology, is presenting her work, “Isolating, purifying and genetically identifying novel bacteriophages from Southern Indiana water samples.”
Phages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. They are the most abundant of biological organisms, and are becoming useful in many fields, including medicine, where their bacteria-killing properties hold some potential benefit in an age of mounting resistance to antibiotics. Sabo’s isolation of 16 phages that use the bacterium Caulobacter as a host more than doubles the available data for this type of phage.
“Everything I’m working with has a probability of being something brand new that no one has ever seen before, and that’s the most exciting part about what we’re doing,” Sabo said. “The idea that I can discover something new and potentially groundbreaking is so amazing to me.”
Sabo has been interested in research since her first biology class in high school, and has been working with Dr. Pam Connerly since the spring of 2016. She likes to be fast-paced, so becoming immersed in the methodical processes of the lab has taught her the indispensable art of patience.
Sabo has applied to several graduate schools, in programs ranging from microbiology and molecular genetics to cellular and molecular biology.
“As long as I get to research, I’ll be content,” Sabo said.
Homepage photo: Angela Sabo (l) and Meeta Cesler-Maloney (r).