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Publishing articles in scientific journals is becoming a habit for Stacey Wagner ’03 (Shavertown, Pa.). A Trustee Scholarship recipient at Lafayette, Wagner has coauthored five published articles in less than two years.

Comparative Parasitology is the latest journal to publish findings from one of Wagner’s research projects. She collaborated with Janna Pachuski ’02, who graduated summa cum laude last May with a degree in biochemistry; Joseph Sherma, professor emeritus of chemistry; and Bernard Fried, professor emeritus of biology. Their article is entitled “Thin Layer Chromatographic Analyses of Amino Acids and Carbohydrates in Adults of Echinostoma caproni.”

Also in 2002, the same group published an article in Acta Chromatographica entitled “Thin-layer chromatographic analysis of carbohydrates and amino acids in Schistosoma mansoni. (Trematoda) cercariae.”

Last year, Wagner teamed up with Fried, Sherma, and Yonghyun Kim ’02, who graduated cum laude from Lafayette in May with a dual degree in chemistry and chemical engineering, to publish an article in the November/December issue of Journal of Planar Chromatography-Modern TLC entitled “Thin-Layer Chromatographic Analysis of Glucose, Maltose, and Raffinose in Biomphalaria glabrata (Gastropoda) Infected with Echinostoma caproni (Trematoda).”

A biochemistry major, Wagner has conducted her research through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend.

In addition to working closely with Sherma, she has collaborated with Yvonne Gindt, assistant professor of chemistry. Wagner presented findings from that EXCEL project, which involved using biochemistry and physical chemistry techniques to investigate protein isolation and stabilization, at the Intercollegiate Student Chemists Convention in April at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.

Wagner coauthored a paper with Gindt and other researchers that was presented last August at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, Mass., and published in its proceedings. She also coauthored a paper presented last August at the 18th Annual Conference on Raman Spectroscopy in Budapest, Hungary, and published in its proceedings.

“I’ve done a lot of research with Dr. Sherma and I enjoyed that research and wanted to try something more in biochemistry,” says Wagner. “Protein preparation takes a long time because there are so many different elements. I really enjoyed doing this project and encourage other students to get involved. I don’t think other schools offer this and it gives you a good idea of what you might want to do in the future.”

Wagner’s role included growing E. coli bacteria engineered to produce excess amounts of the protein being studied. The addition of a small molecule or inducer to the bacteria stimulated production of the protein.

“The inducer causes the bacteria to make a lot of protein,” she says. “We kept repeating this process until we felt the protein was pure enough to do studies on.”

With sufficient protein on hand, Wagner stabilized it and conducted analysis with spectroscopy. The goal was to find an environment for the protein so it could be kept for longer periods of time.

“Proteins are unique molecules,” says Gindt. “They are extremely fragile and sensitive to the environment. Stacey learned how to work with delicate systems. She already had a relatively good background in general theory, but this was her opportunity to put the theory into practice. She used a combination of techniques and concepts covered in the classroom along with some specialized material that a student wouldn’t normally see until graduate school. More importantly, she learned how to systematically solve a problem where the answer is not known.”

The research was part of a larger project in collaboration with the chemistry department at New York University. The Lafayette researchers provided purified enzyme and biochemical expertise.

Gindt worked very closely with Wagner on both the purification procedure and the stability studies.

“She displays both the work ethic and scientific curiosity that I always hope to find in the best chemistry students,” says Gindt.

Categorized in: Academic News