Biology Students Honored for Research

Biology Students Honored for Research

March 22, 2016

Two Susquehanna University students have been honored for their undergraduate research into the growth of catfish and pharmaceutical efficacy.

Senior Dan Isenberg, of Danville, Pa., was selected as the Cooper Award winner by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Senior Brenna Appleton, of Horsham, Pa., was a prize winner in the undergraduate poster session at the national meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB).

As part of his award, Isenberg received a cash award that underwrote his travel to present his research at the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society, Wheeling, W.V.

Isenberg's research sought to determine how growth patterns of channel catfish shift throughout the length of the Susquehanna River. Channel catfish naturally occur from northern Mexico to southern Canada, however, in Pennsylvania, little is known about their population characteristics, including age and growth. Isenberg created natural-state growth models for two reaches of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania that will aid resource agencies in managing channel catfish populations.

Appleton presented research from her summer internship at the Scripps Institute, where she won the trip to ASCB as a result of getting the outstanding research award for the summer program. 

Appleton's research tested new drug compounds to see how they reacted with the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is found in the central nervous system and is thought to play an important role in stress-induced depression, anxiety and drug-seeking behavior. She tested the drugs in vitro (using cell culture) and in vivo (using mice) to determine if they could potentially lead to a treatment for the aforementioned conditions.

"My research showed that the test compounds I had were antagonists, meaning they blocked the activity of the receptor and that they were relatively weak," she said.

Isenberg and Appleton both plan to attend graduate school after their graduation from Susquehanna in May.

Susquehanna's encouragement of student research across academic disciplines was recognized in 2015, when the Council on Undergraduate Research named the university a leader in providing students opportunities to present their research.

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