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As part of her EXCEL Scholars research that began in summer 2004, Marquis Scholar Jamie Jarusiewicz ’06 (Sayreville, N.J.), a biochemistry major, has been analyzing the tiny parts of apple snails, guided by Joseph Sherma, Frances H. Larkin Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, and Bernard Fried, Alice L. Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology.

Her hard work has paid off in the publication of her research by two scientific journals.

Jarusiewicz started in Kunkel Hall with Fried, examining and dissecting each snail and grinding up its shell and operculum — the tiny flap that closes when the snail hides in its shell. Then she brought her work to Hugel Science Center, where she determined the amount of neutral lipids and phospholipids in each sample using densitometry and high-performance thin-layer chromatography (TLC), a procedure for examining closely related compounds.

Continuing her TLC research, she examined the free sterols, a type of primary lipid, that she has found in each sample to determine whether they’re composed only of cholesterol, the most commonly known type of free sterol.

Journal of Liquid Chromatography & Related Technologies recently published “Separation of Sterols by Reversed Phase and Argentation Thin Layer Chromatography. Their Identification in Snail Bodies,” coauthored by Jarusiewicz and Sherma.

In addition, she used the TLC technique to study carotenoid pigments in Pomacea bridgesii snails that maintained different diets such as lettuce or egg yolk. Jarusiewicz completed the pigment work last summer and coauthored “Effects of Diet on the Carotenoid Pigment and Lipid Content of Pomacea Bridgesii as Determined by Quantitative High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography,” with Fried and Sherma. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology published their paper this year.

Still working with Sherma and Fried, she is now composing an honors thesis investigating carbohydrates and organic acids in snails that have gone through a period of drought. The team hopes to learn more about the snails’ metabolism using TLC and high-performance liquid chromatography.

After graduation Jarusiewicz plans to attend graduate school to obtain a doctorate in bioorganic chemistry and pursue a career in the discovery and design of pharmaceutical drugs.

“Lafayette has helped me gain a strong background in the sciences and has given me the opportunity to conduct independent research with extremely supportive faculty, ” she says. “The guidance of my research advisers, as well as other faculty in the department, has helped me decide to continue to pursue a higher degree and my time working in the laboratory has led me to grow as a student andresearcher.”

“I think this experience is unique to Lafayette due to the small size of the school and the encouragement of the faculty,” she adds. “Lafayette has prepared me to continue my education and has set up a solid foundation for my future endeavors.”

Jarusiewecz has been a member of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection and Lafayette Activities Forum’s comedy committee and a general chemistry tutor. She has also studied Gothic architecture in Belgium, Germany, and Holland through a special interim course.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty students have been accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News