Research Team to Publish in Stanford U. Scientific Journal

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Research Team to Publish in Stanford U. Scientific Journal

By Carla Morris

Jessie ChappelOne current student and three recent graduates representing Greenville University’s Department of Biology will have a paper published in the September 20 issue of The Journal of Bio-protocol, a peer-reviewed international journal. G.U. Assistant Professor of Biology Bwarenaba Kautu received word of the publication August 15.

Authors include co-first author Jessie Chappel ’20 (at left) and alumni co-authors Kellie Steele ’18, Juliana Phillips ’17 and M. Shawn Mengarelli ’15.

Several scientific journals invited the researchers to publish with them. The team chose Bio-protocol, a publication established by professors at Stanford University.

Creativity in the Lab

Using inexpensive materials and a laboratory organism called C. elegans, the team created an experimental assay—an investigative procedure—that could help neuroscientists gain further insight into the neurophysiological effects of plant chemicals called kavalactones.

Kavalactones are found in the root of kava, a medicinal plant native to the South Pacific Islands. When consumed, these chemicals interact with the human nervous system to produce calming and relaxing effects. Scientists do not fully understand how these chemicals interact with the nervous system.

kava rootAffordable Yet Impactful

“The protocol that our students developed could potentially help the scientific community uncover the mechanism of interaction,” said Kautu.

Kautu encourages his students to exercise creativity in the science laboratory.

“These students demonstrated creativity by using inexpensive materials to build something that could potentially make an important contribution to the scientific/medical community,” he said. “It is important for students to understand that what they build or discover in the laboratory could also potentially change the lines of scientific and medical textbooks. My goal as a professor is to provide opportunities for students to do these things.”

Collaboration That Spanned Four Years

Mengarelli helped start the development of the assay as a junior. Steele and Phillips joined the project as freshmen. They helped refine the conditions of the assay and also assisted with writing the manuscript. Chappel took on the project after her freshman year. She completed all of the unfinished experiments and assisted with writing and submitting the manuscript. She also helped addressed all of the journal reviewers’ comments.

Chappel has submitted another paper for consideration. “We hope to get this one published as well, within two to three months,” said Kautu. 

Learn More

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G.U. Gives Undergrads Much-Needed Research Experience in STEM
Summer Stem Adventures
University Students Continue Testing Well Water in Southern Illinois

Your gift to Greenville University’s Catalyst Fund powers student research including the kavalactone project. Thank you for giving.

This story was published on September 12, 2018

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