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Clarkson University Undergraduate Students Recognized for Science Presentations

Four Clarkson University undergraduate students recently were honored for chemistry and biomolecular science presentations.

Derek Dustin ’15, Katherine Beglinger ’14, Hannah Norton ’16 and Alyssa Hotalen ’15 received awards at a research conference sponsored by the Northern New York Local Section of the American Chemical Society.

 Derek DustinDustin, a biology major from Fort Covington, N.Y., received first place for his oral presentation on the development of antimicrobial agents using supramolecular peptides. As a student working with Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Assistant Professor He Dong, he continues his research this summer as part of the collaboration between the Dong group at Clarkson University and the Timothy Sellati group at the Trudeau Institute.

Dustin focuses on the development of supramolecular antimicrobial peptides that have unique physical and chemical properties to kill a variety of pathogens not only outside cells, but also those replicating inside cells. These materials may offer great opportunities to replace conventional antibiotics therapy where antibiotics resistance has become a significant concern when using small molecule based antibiotic drugs, Dong explained.  

“It’s a pleasure to work with undergraduate students, and especially through this opportunity where you can teach them and train them and pass your knowledge on to those students,” said Dong. “It feels so rewarding to see them work independently, and you’re so excited when they have their own ideas and own design.”

Katherine BeglingerBeglinger, of Varysburg, N.Y., placed first for a presentation on her work with Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Assistant Professor Costel C. Darie. Her research focuses on analyzing protein profiles in bodily fluids to identify biomarkers that correlate with autism. Biomarkers can help physicians diagnose children with autism earlier to improve their treatment outcome. Beglinger completed her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biomolecular science at Clarkson University this spring and is starting graduate work at the University of California at Davis in the fall.

“Katie is currently at a 7,000-participant meeting -- only one of about 30 undergrads in the world attending,” Darie said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Hannah Norton and Alyssa HotalenNorton, a biomolecular science major from East Aurora, N.Y., and Hotalen, a chemistry and biomolecular science major from Monroe, N.Y., received the third place poster award for their work with other students and Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Associate Professor and Chair Phillip Christiansen studying glass formation and nutrient availability in recycled biomass ash. Christiansen said research is a component of the first year chemistry labs.

“I really enjoy watching the students because this is a project that’s pretty much outside the realm of norm for them, and it’s fun when they start to catch on and get what we’re trying to figure out,” he said.

Christiansen said the students’ work this year has piqued curiosity about how silica particles in plants relate to carbon sequestration -- inspiring next year’s class project.

“These projects usually end up opening up more questions than they answer,” he said.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo captions: Derek Dustin. Katherine Beglinger. Hannah Norton (left) and Alyssa Hotalen.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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