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Her work with three professors has led to publications in scholarly journals and conference presentations
During her time at Lafayette, Jessica Counihan ’10 (Colorado Springs, Colo.) has made the most of the opportunities the College provides for students to conduct research alongside faculty members.

Counihan, a double major in chemistry and a self-designed major in architecture, has already seen the results of her research published in a scientific journal and has presented her work at conferences.

She has spent two interims and one summer working on EXCEL research and one semester on an independent study with Bernard Fried, Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology; Joseph Sherma, Larkin Professor Emeritus of Chemistry; and Peter Zani, visiting assistant professor of biology. Their research has focused on studying the neutral lipids (or fats) in lizards and the effects that global warming could have on their hibernation patterns.

They gave a presentation on “Effects of Winter Temperature on the Energetics and hydration of Lizards” at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in January in Boston. In April, Counihan presented her research at the 23rd National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Their work has also been published in two issues of the Journal of Liquid Chromatography, and the team is working on another paper related to the research.

Counihan is currently working on an EXCEL project with Fried, Sherma, and Zani to study the neutral lipids in mosquitoes, and she will be helping to write up the results of that research for submission to academic journals and conferences.

This summer, Counihan will start working on her honors thesis in chemistry, which will continue throughout the next school year. She will be working with Sherma and Fried to study differences in the amounts of various biomarker compounds present in feces and urine of experimentally infected mice. The research could lead to the development of medical diagnostic tests that are simpler and less expensive than currently available tests.

Counihan was attracted to Lafayette for many reasons: “Lafayette has a great science program and beautiful facilities. As a small, undergraduate institution, there are many opportunities to get involved in research and work in close collaboration with your professors. I liked the small class sizes and close interactions with faculty. Also I wanted to experience the East Coast, and Lafayette is conveniently located near both Philadelphia and New York City, both of which I visit often.”

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