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Press Release: National Science Foundation Awards DeSales University $100,000 Grant For Collaborative Study On Contamination Of Wastewater
Date: 7/16/2003

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National Science Foundation Awards DeSales University $100,000 Grant For Collaborative Study On Contamination Of Wastewater

Lafayette College and Lehigh Carbon Community College join DeSales in the three-year multidisciplinary research project.

Center Valley, Pa. (July 16, 2003) - The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $100,000 grant to DeSales University, Lafayette College and Lehigh Carbon Community College to introduce undergraduate students to state-of-the-art detection methods for estrogen in surface waters. The three-year grant, effective July 2003 through June 2006, will fund faculty research to develop the lecture and laboratory module for students in biology, engineering and environmental science courses at the three institutions.

"This project will enable students to appreciate that chemicals in our water, introduced pervasively through agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical means, have a great impact on people, ecological systems and the environment," said Joseph Colosi, associate professor of biology at DeSales, who specializes in ecology and environmental science.

Collaborating with Colosi as co-principal investigators on the intercollegiate and multidisciplinary research project are Arthur D. Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Lafayette, and Holly Morris, professor of biology at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

"Estrogen is a powerful hormone that has a great effect on reproductive development in people and animals in the environment," said Colosi. "The project will enable students to view the broad implications of the effects of a common and widespread environmental pollutant that most people are unaware of."

The faculty and student teams will use a recombinant yeast strain - yeast that has been genetically modified by the insertion of a gene from another organism - developed by researchers at Tulane and Xavier Universities to detect and measure the estrogenic compounds in wastewater. In this case, the yeast strain, which is the same species that is used in baking and in the production of beer and wine, has the gene for the human estrogen receptor. The three principal investigators will become familiar with the yeast strain and develop lab protocols during an intensive week at Xavier University in August 2003.

The collaborative study will involve student teams consisting of members from each school. Students will collect, analyze and interpret data and use online courseware to communicate with their peers at the three schools, faculty and professional researchers, as they complete their team projects.

Introductory biology students from Lehigh Carbon Community College will concentrate on the biological implications of estrogen on water, such as the effects on reproduction in fish, amphibians and humans.

Environmental science students at DeSales will focus on environmental, societal and legislative implications of estrogen in wastewater.

Engineering students at Lafayette will study the ways that treatment systems can eliminate estrogen from water.

The entire project will span two academic years and three summers. Faculty and students will work together to delineate the problem, gather data, analyze their findings and make recommendations for action. A scientific style conference will be held at the end of the project in which student teams will present their findings and recommendations. During the second academic year, the study is repeated with the suggested improvements incorporated. During the summer of 2005, the three faculty members will disseminate the concept and structure of the project through presentations at the NSF, professional workshops and published material, so that it could be adopted at other institutions.

Colosi joined the DeSales faculty as an assistant professor in the biology department at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, as it was known previously, in 1982. He was promoted to associate professor in 1988, and also served as department chairperson. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Rutgers University and both a master's degree and doctorate in botany from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State, respectively. He is the author or co-author of publications in plant population biology and innovations in teaching biology. He is a member of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Botanical Society of America and the Ecological Society of America, among others. This is his fourth grant from the National Science Foundation.

Kney has involved many students in his research program, since joining the Lafayette faculty in 1999. Last year, he was awarded an NSF grant of $49,832 with colleagues in chemical engineering and physics, to fund student-faculty research on improving water and wastewater treatment. He has published several articles on related research. He holds a doctorate in environmental engineering and a master's degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University, in addition to a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor's degree in biology from Saint Francis College. He served as a site investigator with Merritt/Osborn Environmental Consulting Inc. in Newtown, Pa., from 1990-99.

Morris began her career at LCCC as a biology lecturer in 1989. She was promoted to full-time assistant professor of biology in 1990, and then to associate professor in 1995. She earned a bachelor's degree in botany from Michigan State University and a master's degree in anatomy from the University of Pennsylvania. During the 16 years prior to LCCC, Holly served as a research specialist in the department of behavioral neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. This experience included research on Parkinson's disease, peptide hormones, enzymes, and normal and abnormal neonatal development.

For more information on the research study, please contact Joseph Colosi, associate professor of biology at DeSales University, at 610-282-1100, Ext. 1288, or at jcc0@DeSales.edu.

Press Release: National Science Foundation Awards DeSales University $100,000 Grant For Collaborative Study On Contamination Of Wastewater | Posted on: 7/16/2003

For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive D
irector of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu

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