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Grant Success

December 13, 2004

Studying the ‘Trash Cans’ of Worms

A $293,000 grant from the National Science foundation will enable Greg Hermann, assistant professor of biology, to study cell structure and function in worms. The three-year research project will produce a genetic and molecular analysis of lysosome assembly and stability in Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny (one millimeter long) soil nematode that has become a leading model system for the study of biological processes in multicellular animals.

Hermann’s research is aimed at identifying and characterizing the activity of genes that may function to assemble and maintain lysosomes. Lysosomes, defined by Hermann, are compartments equivalent to “cellular trash cans”; the compartments contain a potent mix of degradative enzymes. While researchers know a great deal about the functions of lysosomes, little is known about how these compartments are made.

According to Hermann, defects in making or maintaining lysosomes are associated with a number of diseases. “Examining C. elegans may help us understand and treat diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or arthritis,” says Hermann.

Hermann will work with Lewis & Clark students to carry out many of the project’s experiments. Participating students include Nicole Kaupp ’06, Elizabeth Kwan ’05, Beverly Rabbitts ’05, and Lena Schroeder ’04.

A Jump-Start for New Prof

Nikolaus Loening is off to a great start at Lewis & Clark College. The new assistant professor of chemistry, who arrived on campus in August, received a $20,000 Dreyfus Foundation faculty start-up grant.

“The great thing about this grant is that it gives me a lot of flexibility in starting my research on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy at Lewis & Clark,” says Loening.

Loening’s research focuses on developing methods to speed up NMR experiments, which would allow samples to be analyzed more quickly. “NMR spectroscopy is a powerful technique that has broad-ranging applications,” says Loening. “These applications include chemical analysis, medical imaging (which is known as MRI), biomolecular structure determinations, fluid mechanics, and quantum computing.” 

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Faculty Start-Up Grant Program was introduced in 1993 to provide funding for new faculty members at non-Ph.D.-granting institutions as they begin their research and teaching activities. In general, the foundation awards only 10 such grants nationally each year.

Reaching Out to Oregon

Lewis & Clark College students will connect with more community service projects, thanks to an Oregon Civic Solutions grant from the Oregon Campus Compact. The College received a $30,000 three-year grant to help establish projects that connect students to issues facing the state.

“This grant enables us to offer students and the community greater ways to work together on key social service projects,” says Kelly Hoover, coordinator of student leadership and service at the Center for Service and Work. The center helps students volunteer in a range of activities including serving the HIV/AIDS community, reading to grade school students in the SMART program, and distributing food for the Oregon Food Bank. Students blend community action with civic learning through these activities.

The Oregon Civic Solutions grant will focus student efforts to work toward three key goals: decreasing hunger, enhancing K-12 education, and reducing the urban-rural divide.

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