Five Bemidji State University students were named the 2022 recipients of the Dr. Richard Beitzel Biochemistry Student Research Fund, a scholarship that supplies opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty support.
The fund was established through an endowment gift by Bemidji State alumnus Dr. Elwood Largis ’65, who’s successful career in pharmaceutical research began with Dr. Richard Beitzel, professor emeritus of chemistry. Now biochemistry students conducting research on campus receive Beitzel scholarship support every spring, continuing the professor’s legacy of supporting student researchers at Bemidji State.
The 2022 Dr. Richard Beitzel Biochemistry Student Research Fund has sponsored the following student research projects:
- “Time-Dependent Effect of Antioxidants on Reactive Oxygen Species Steady-State Levels in Wounded Human Dermal Fibroblasts” by Jessica Carney, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology senior.
- “Creating NHE1 Knockout Cells to Advance Ovarian Cancer Research” by Rumer Flatness, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology junior, and Taylor Kot, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology senior.
- “Subcellular Colocalization of Rho GTPase TCL with Rab Family GTPases” by Simone Intriago, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology senior.
- “Mapping of transposon insert locations which cause the transformation of euchromatin to heterochromatin by inverse PCR” by Madeline Gruys, a biology senior.
Bemidji State Dermatology and Skin Care Research
Carney hopes to one day become a dermatologist. To prepare for medical school, the senior from Ham Lake, Minnesota, is conducting research on the integumentary system – the outer layer or covering of an organism that includes skin, hair or nails – under the guidance of Dr. Kjerstin Owens, associate professor of biology.
With funding from the Beitzel research scholarship, Carney is injuring cells from deep within the skin and then treating them using various antioxidants to measure how free radicals affect wound healing.
“Learning about the wound healing process and how it can be enhanced will contribute to my future career goals of promoting healthy skin care,” Carney said.
Bemidji State Ovarian Cancer Research
Under the guidance of Dr. Mark Wallert, professor of biology, Flatness, a pre-dentistry junior hailing from Bemidji, and Kot, a pre-medical senior from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, are researching ovarian cancer.
Using funding from the Beitzel research scholarship, the duo is using CRISPR, a technology that can edit genes, to better understand a sodium hydrogen exchange protein in ovarian cancer cells.
“This project will help me achieve my career goals by expanding my knowledge on topics I will be able to apply to future patients, and by enhancing resumes and applications,” Kot said. “The lab techniques and topics learned throughout this research will propel me into a successful future.”
After graduation, both Kot and Flatness plan to attend dental school.
“The diseases and conditions encompassing the mouth mesmerize me. Research has expanded my knowledge greatly, particularly within the biochemical processes that occur within our bodies,” Kot said.
Flatness, who is also a guard for the BSU women’s basketball team, plans to begin dental school in Fall 2023 and says her research at Bemidji State has helped her learn to think critically.
“The research that I am doing now has and will help me develop my technical skills and help me get a deeper understanding of cancerous and cellular mechanisms,” she said.
After doing extensive lab work under the direction of Dr. Andrew Arsham, assistant professor of biology, Gruys, a senior from Rogers, Minnesota, knew she wanted a career in research. Now, she regularly conducts research on campus and at Instrumental Research, Inc. in Fridley, Minnesota.
“I have been working at the Arsham Lab for a year, where I have utilized molecular techniques to further investigate the genomic studies and interests of our lab,” she said. “With my diligence and determination, I wish to use my diverse skill set to contribute to research, performing alongside a team of talented individuals and investigating relevant questions.
With Beitzel research funding Gruys is using fruit flies to discover how genes adapt to changing conditions. Specifically she is looking to understand how genes sense, adapt to or silence incoming DNA.
Bemidji State Subcellular Colocalization Research
Intriago, a senior from Quito, Ecuador, has been involved in research programs under the guidance of Dr. Michael Hamann, professor and chair of biology, since her sophomore year at Bemidji State.
“My innate curiosity led me to leave my beloved country, Ecuador, and explore the world,” she said. “In 2018, I enrolled in Bemidji State and immediately became involved in performing quality assurance for Hobart laboratories in Bemidji.”
Using Beitzel scholarship funds, Intriago is tagging proteins with a fluorescent substance to track their location during cell processes. After graduating in May 2022, she wants to attend medical school and hopes her research will propel her into her career.
“These laboratory experiences have augmented my curiosity for biochemistry and the elegant nature of the human body,” she said.
- Dr. Kjerstin Owens, associate professor of biology, email@example.com