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
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
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
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.