Student researchers present at national conference

Is the meat on pizza from Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s and Dominos real?

That was what Amy Wilson sought to find out for her final project in Applied Research

in Biology (BIO 297).

“My project specifically was regarding the purity of cooked meat, or meat adulteration, in

the three brands of pizza,” she said. “I extracted DNA and we sent it out for sequencing to see if

it came back as actual beef, chicken, or pork. Unfortunately, due to the fact that samples were

heavily processed – cooked, frozen, cooked again – the meat was too degraded to allow for

reliable results and I was unable to conclude one way or another whether the samples were in

face pure.”

Wilson said that initially she saw the results as a failure.

“But what Professor [Darren] Mattone and this class taught me was that it was only a

starting point,” she said. “This type of result only shows us what doesn’t work and where we go

from there.”

Her presentation on her paper, “Using a Mini DNA Barcoding Technique to Test for

Adulteration in Cooked Meat Products,” was one of several at the recent Community College

Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) in Nashville, Tenn.

“We began our experiments about a month into the winter semester so there wasn’t much

time to rework things,” Wilson said, “but I learned a tremendous amount from the whole

experience and it has actually shaped some of my future goals. The conference gave me the

opportunity to present my research to other students and professors and get some really

incredible feedback.”

Also presenting from MCC was Benancio Rodriguez, who is conducting an independent

study under MCC instructor Greg Marczak. He spoke about his research on “Success in

Monitoring Anaerobic Digestion via Practical Design.”

Alyssa Adamczak, whose research was on bacterial soap, was one of the MCC students

attending, although she did not present her findings.

The title of her research was, “How Does the Microbial Community of the Human

Axillary Region Change after Washing with a Standard Antibacterial Soap?”

“From my research I saw that there was greater bacterial diversity before the application

of antibacterial soap than after,” she said,” which was what I expected. Because I got some

unexpected results, I also learned that experimental design and methods used can greatly affect

the outcome of an experiment.”

Other students attending the conference, all in Mattone’s biology class, included:

 Garrett Dixon – “DNA Barcoding Authentication of Ginkgo Biloba Herbal Supplements”

 Gabe Cerchiori – “Identification of the Freshwater Sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis Through

DNA Barcoding and Habitat Analysis”

 Gary Swain – “Soil Bacteria Extraction from the Wetland Plant Phragmites australis”

 Kanghyun You – “The Effect of pH on the Growth of Cellulase Producing Bacteria”

They joined more than 90 students, along with their faculty advisors, from 23 different

community colleges around the U.S.

The event was sponsored by the CCURI, a National Science Foundation-funded organization

based at Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, N.Y. MCC has been a charter

partner school since CCURI’s inception in 2011.


Featured Image: MCC students at the CCURI research symposium in Tennessee include (front row, from left) Alyssa Adamczak, Kang You, Amy Wilson. Back row: Gary Swain, Benancio Rodriguez, Gabe Cerchiori and Garrett Dixon. – MCC photo.

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