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Biology and Environmental Science News

The capstone work of Hadassa Guttman (BT, ’14) and several other scientists is being presented as a poster at a joint meeting between the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX) and the Japanese Society for the Study of Xenobiotics. ISSX was founded in 1981 as an international group that studies the metabolism of foreign compounds. Hadassa completed her capstone internship at Bioreclamation IVT in Baltimore, MD, developing human liver cells as models for drug development. Her work is included in a poster, “Impact of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Human AOX1 on the Enzymatic Activity of Aldehyde Oxidase in Cryopreserved Human Hepatocytes” and in an industry sponsored symposium entitled “Extreme Donor Variability in Human Aldehyde Oxidase Activity: Pharmacogenomics and In Vitro Solutions.” The link to the abstract can be found here -

Kirstin Powell has been the Director of Biopharma Global Quality, in Lonza Walkersville, for the past three years. Ms. Powell came to Stevenson last week to speak to students in the BT 205 course: Biosafety and Quality Assurance. For the previous 10 years, she acted as the Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory affairs at Lonza. She shared her years of experience in the field of Biotechnology with students to improve their understanding of what it is like to work in the Biosafety and Quality Assurance industry. Ms. Powell received a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University.

Ajani Khalfani, a senior biology major, completed an internship at GBMC this summer to fulfill her senior capstone hours. With the help of one of her professors here at Stevenson, Ms. Carol Schmidhouser, Ajani secured the internship in the general surgery department with the Finney Trimble Surgical Associates Team. She was able to observe many surgeries in the general operating room ranging from hernia repairs, to appendectomies, a cholecystectomy, a thyroidectomy, and even some plastic surgery procedures. Ajani additionally was able to observe several deliveries in the Labor and Delivery Suite (both vaginal and C-section), as well as shadow residents in the GYN Oncology Suite. Some of the duties she performed during her internship included answering and making phone calls from the operating room when the nurse was occupied and turning over the operating room for the next patient. Ajani says that her favorite part of her experience was being in the Labor and Delivery Suite, because she is working towards becoming an obstetrician, and this internship offered her the opportunity to see firsthand what obstetricians do and the environment in which they work. The picture above shows Ajani at the hospital dancing in a video submission for the Medline Pink Glove Dance Contest, which raises money for breast cancer. GBMC took first place in the competition, winning $10,000 for a local breast cancer organization. Great job Ajani!

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Mr. Gerry Durmowicz, Product Support Manager at medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson, presented to students in the BT 205 course: Biosafety and Quality Assurance. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola College and two Master of Science degrees, from Middlebury College and Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Durmowicz said he was drawn to this position because of the practical, rather than theoretical, nature of the job. He started working at Becton Dickinson 18 years ago and shared his experiences in the field with students. The BT 205 course introduces safety and quality control issues related to product development in the biotechnology industry and Mr. Durmowicz’s presentation was valuable in increasing student understanding of these concepts.

Senior Biology majors, Ebony Smith and Keeley Cook, are assisting Dr. Blatch this year in her study of how nutrition and microorganisms affect the growth and development of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). Ebony is specifically looking at the effects of manipulating the flies with the addition of folic acid, while Keeley is looking at the effects bacteria have on the fruit flies. In performing this research, students have the opportunity to learn a variety of techniques including: how to handle flies, prepare special diets, determine specific stages of development, do DNA extractions and PCR, use online genomic databases, measure vitamin levels, and culture/identify microbes. Ebony’s favorite part about performing research at Stevenson is the ability to gain hands-on experience. Additionally, Keeley loves that performing research here provides her with an opportunity to practice the new techniques she has learned as a biology major.

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