Thursday, January 2, 2014

Whitworth chemistry student wins Murdock Poster Prize at recent research conference


Whitworth chemistry major Shannon James-Kozlovich, ’14, recently brought home a Murdock Poster Prize in Organic and Computational Chemistry from the 2013 Murdock College Science Research Program Conference in Vancouver, Wash.

“The conference was an amazing experience,” James-Kozlovich says. “I was given a variety of great connections and ideas for future work through discussing my research with so many people. In fact, this Jan term I am going to work on an idea that came directly from the conference.”

James-Kozlovich and Victoria DePalma, ’14, also a chemistry major, have been conducting research under the direction of Whitworth Assistant Professor of Chemistry Trisha Russell.

In their research, they have been seeking one or more derivatives that have an effect on the ASB enzyme. Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome occurs when the ASB enzyme does not function properly. The disease inhibits healthy growth and development, and some symptoms include fluid in the brain, inflamed organs, and skeletal abnormalities. Currently, there is no cure. James-Kozlovich explains that she, DePalma and Russell hope to find a molecule that will “chaperone” the malfunctioning enzyme and restore it to full functionality. She plans on continuing her research with Russell for the remainder of her time at Whitworth.

“There is big science being done by small universities, and the scientific community needs the work we do,” James-Kozlovich says.

After graduating, James-Kozlovich plans on earning her Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She hopes to find a research position at an educational institution where she can teach and continue her research.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provides grants and enrichment programs to organizations that seek to strengthen and enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest. In spring 2013, Assistant Professor of Biology Grant Casady received a $30,000 grant from the Murdock trust to fund two summers of research at Whitworth’s Verbrugge Environmental Center.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.