Dr. Greg Grant, Grote Professor of Chemistry, with Lensey Hill and Greg
Colette Huntley and Dr. Henry Spratt, Professor of Biological and Environmental
Students Showcase Biology and Chemistry Research
Under the supervision of Dr. Henry Spratt, microbiologist at UTC, Colette
Huntley spent last summer fighting her way though a forest of Ligustrum
sinense , better known to locals as the dreaded Chinese privet that has
invaded the property of many Tennessee Valley homeowners.
"Our ultimate purpose for studying this plant in the controlled environment
of the Tennessee River Gorge (TRG) is to follow a trend to find biological
instead of chemical ways to control the damage of an invasive alien plant,"
Forrest soils, microbial communities and nutrient pools in the TRG were
all under scrutiny, according to H untley. Data collected suggests that
Chinese privet has an impact on all three, meaning further implications
for the survival of native species, both plants and microbes.
"We observed that the moisture levels for native plants located near
the Chinese privet was significantly deficient. The shallow roots of the
privet collect moisture and other nutrients, to the detriment of surrounding
native plants," Huntley said.
In April, 2003, Huntley will present this research at a meeting of the
Association of Southeastern Biologists in Washington, D.C. Merck/The American
Association for the Advancement of Science and the UC Foundation Grote
Chemistry Fund provided funding for the Summer Undergraduate Research
Program. Additional funding was provided for thirteen UTC undergraduates
and 8 faculty members from the UTC Chemistry Department, who presented
their research recently at the SouthEast Regional Meeting of the American
Chemical Society (SERMACS) in Charleston, South Carolina.
"Students are mentored by a faculty advisor for ten weeks over the
summer. Many of these research programs lead to getting the results published
in professional journals," Dr. Greg Grant, UTC professor of inorganic
Lensey Hill was among the students travelling to South Carolina. She has
been working under Grants supervision along with students Greg Helton,
John Lee and Ken Patel to find new materials to bind with toxic heavy
metals to remove them from waste waters. Hill is working with cadmium.
"Cadmium affects environmental and biological systems in m any ways
, most of which are harmful. It not only causes harm to humans, but also
to other ecosystems. Our research hopes to find a more cost efficient
way to remove the metal from the environment," Hill said.
For humans, the physical effects of cadmium in wastewater are ominous;
cadmium can cause serious illness or death. Damage can result in the lungs,
kidneys, stomach and intestinal tract, Hill said.
Grants research focused on selectively binding mercury for the removal
of this toxic heavy metal from contaminated waters.
Individual student assignments received additional funding from a variety
of sources. For instance, The UTC Chemistry Department, Provost Student
Research Award and the Dreyfuss Foundation provided funding for Dr. Grant
and his students research.
Grant is proud of the efforts of all the students involved in this project.
"The process and results are as good as in a doctoral program. The
time frame is shorter, but the quality of the work is just as good,"
UTC researchers who attended the SERMACS meeting are chemistry faculty
Dr. Doug Kutz, Dr. Greg Grant, Dr. Monte Helm, Dr. Kyle Knight, Dr. Robert
Mebane, Dr. Gail Meyer, Dr. Manuel Santiago and Dr. Steven Symes. Chemistry
students who attended the meeting include Lauren Beihoffer, Elizabeth
Boaz, Elisha Fielding, Reese Harry, Greg Helton, Lensey Hill, James Hitchman,
Vanessa Janeksela, John Lee, Katie Leonard, Missy Mathis, Ken Patel and