Report on Practicum Projects 2009

Spencer Shecht
Souvonik Adhya
Ronald Devera

Spencer Schecht
Email address: sschecht@umd.edu
College Park Scholars (Earth, Life, and Time), Cell Biology and Genetics Major
Title of Project: "The Cycad Apical Meristem: An Investigation of the Development and Lineage of Cycads"

Decscription of Project: Cycads are currently classified as gymnospers, but his practicum advisor hypothesizes they are in fact closely related to a group of seed ferns that were supposedly extinct over 100 million years ago. For his work, he dissected certain parts of the cycads and used electron microscopes to photograph them in order to prove or disprove the seed-fern hypothesis. Because of the relatively short period of research he conducted, a conclusion was not reached during his work there.

What were the main benefits you received from doing the project?: One of Spencer's favorite parts of his practicum was work was the opportunity to use an electron microscope. These special microscopes uses a beam of electrons to produce highly-magnified images, in this case images of cycads. He liked the fact that he was able to work hands-on with these powerful machines.

What were the main pitfalls or obstacles during the development and/or undertaking of the project?: Some setbacks were that some of the images/photographs were unclear, and could not be used right away as evidence for the research. More experiments needed to be done in order to identify the source of this problem.

Souvonik Adhya
Email address: souvadhya@gmail.com
College Park Scholars (Earth, Life, and Time), Cell Biology and Genetics Major
Title of Project: "Biphenyl Levels in Fish"

Decscription of Project: Polychlorinated biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs, are a class of toxic organic compuonds. They are environmental pollutants that bioaccumalate in many animals, including animals like fish that are a large part of our diet. For his practicum work, Souvonik worked on developing a method that could accurately determine PCB levels from a fish sample. He took samples of local fish and used a chromatogram to graph out the PCB levels in the fish. He used a complex method to effectively process and prepare the fish tissue for sampling, and then isolated the present PCBs from the tissue in order to sample them with lab equipment.

What were the main benefits you received from doing the project?: His work actually was successful, and the method he helped perfect is an acceptable way to test for PCBs.

What were the main pitfalls or obstacles during the development and/or undertaking of the project?: One of the first major obstacles Souvonik came across in his work was the that it was difficult at first to get a useful sample of the lipids that were to be tested for PCBs. In some samples, there was too much water for the tests to work effectively, as the water would disrupt the testing process. Souvonik had to start freeze-drying the samples in order to get his tests to yield consistent results.

Ronald Devera
Email address: rdevera@umd.edu
College Park Scholars (Earth, Life, and Time), General Biology Major
Title of Project: "Compliance in Biopharmaceuticals

Decscription of Project: Ronlad did his practicum work for Chesapeake Biological Laboratories (CBL). CBL is a pharmaceutical manufacturer that specializes in the development and production of sterile biopharmaceuticals and other pharmaceutical products. Most of his work had to do with the many rules and regulations that CBL has to comly with in order to manufacture its products. He dealt with both quality assurance and control and performed tests to ensure that the pharmaceuticals met all the global standsards that apply to such products. He perfrormed several elaborate chemical tests on the drugs to ensure they were fit for human use and consumption.

What were the main benefits you received from doing the project? Although his work could not actually be used, he still felt like he benefited a lot due to this unique learning experience. He is thinking about pursuing a job in a the health care/pharmaceutical field, so the knowledge he gained could prove invaluable in his future career pursuits.

What were the main pitfalls or obstacles during the development and/or undertaking of the project?: Because Ronald was not fully trained and schooled in this field, the work he did could not actually be used for the actual process of screening these drugs.

Last modified: 12 May 2009