Edgren Scholars Announced for 2019-20

Three faculty-student research teams from chemistry received Bethel’s Edgren Scholarship awards for the summer and next academic year.

By Suzanne McInroy, director of communications

May 09, 2019 | 4 p.m.

Bethel University’s College of Arts & Sciences announced the faculty-student research teams that received the 2019-20 Edgren Scholarship awards. In 2001, Bethel launched the award to support collaborative summer research between faculty and students. The award provides summer compensation to faculty members and a student stipend of $3,000 to allow both to dedicate their summer months to a specific research project.

This year’s recipients and projects are:

Associate Professor of Chemistry Stacey Stoffregen and Jesse Mojeske ’20

“Computational Study of Hydrofluoroolefins (HFO's): Reactivity with CI/HO Radicals and Ozone in the Troposphere”

In 1974, scientists linked chloroflueorocarbons (CFC's) to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. As a result, researchers have sought to find alternate refrigerants and propellants with little or no ozone depletion potential (ODP). Hydrofluoroolefins (HFO’S) are promising non-chlorine containing CFC replacements with appear to have relatively short atmospheric lifetimes, near zero to zero ODP's, and limited transport to the stratosphere. However, to date researchers have only conducted a limited number of HFO degradation product studies. Therefore, the goal of this Edgren project is to identify likely degradation pathways of HFO's via their reaction with their prevalent species in the troposphere (HO, Cl, and ozone). Stoffregen and Mojeske will use computational chemistry techniques to model HFO reaction with HO, Cl, and ozone in order to determine whether HFO's are possible contributors to the bio accumulation of perfluorinated acids in fish and mammals and in surface water.

Professor of Chemistry Angela Stoeckman and Korbyn Dahlquist ’20

“Hepatocytes secrete pro-inflammatory cytokine CICNC-1/CXCL1 in response to saturated fatty acid treatment”

One in three Americans has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, often without their knowledge. Due to current difficulties in diagnosis, this disease often progresses to more serious forms of liver damage including cancer, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. The details surrounding the cause of the disease are largely unknown, but the existing model suggests a “two-hit” hypothesis requiring both an accumulation of fat in the liver as well as local inflammation due to immune cell function and recruitment. Working together this summer, Stoeckman and Dahlquist will conduct laboratory experiments examining the inflammatory responses of isolated liver cells when faced with excess saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Using fluorescent and colorimetric tests, the research team will measure levels of fat storage, explore altered gene expression, quantify secreted markers of inflammation, and investigate intracellular signaling pathways with inhibitor studies. The goal is to understand more fully the inflammatory mechanisms involved in order to improve diagnosis and slow progression of the disease.

Professor of Chemistry James Christenson and Kristen Bishop ’20

“Discovery of Medicinal Natural Products from Rhodococcus Bacteria”

When famous biologist Alexander Fleming discovered antibiotic penicillin from mold in 1928 it opened a new world of drug discovery from microorganisms. The same theme is carried on today in medical research labs around the globe, but has taken a new twist with the advent of DNA sequencing. Preliminary genetic work at Bethel has identified the bacteria Rhodococcus as a likely producer of a beta-lactone medicinal compound. Beta-lactones from other bacteria are known to have antibiotic and anti-cancer properties. Through their research this summer, Christenson and Bishop will seek to purify and determine the structure of the beta-lactone compounds in Rhodococcus.