BPC Science Club Project Receives Regional Honor

MT. VERNON -- A research project on the effectiveness of Sweet Vidalia Onion juice against bacteria on certain vegetables recently earned members of Brewton-Parker College's Science Club an award while competing against teams from large research universities.

Four Brewton-Parker students received a Travel Award at the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, which convened Nov. 7-9 in Gainesville, Fla., and sponsored by University of Florida.

The Science Club students, listed with their hometown, classification and officer position, who participated in creating the project are: Chase Altman, Hoboken freshman, parliamentarian; Jennifer Cox, Warner Robins junior, president; Marsha Dyer, Covington junior, secretary and chaplain; and Jason Sanders, Mount Vernon junior, vice president.

Dr. William Said, Brewton-Parker associate professor of biology and Science Club advisor, said the conference's goal is "to enhance understanding of cutting-edge research in microbiology and to share scientific research findings with several internationally renowned scientists."

Brewton-Parker's presenters competed against research teams from mainly large research universities in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. More than 90 oral and poster presentations by post-doctoral fellows, as well as graduate and undergraduate students, competed for the President's Award.

Only eight undergraduate posters were nominated for the President's Award, which went to the University of Florida. Posters that were nominated for the President's Award (including Brewton-Parker's research poster) attained a Travel Award.

The Brewton-Parker project team's preliminary research results indicated that crude Sweet Vidalia Onion juice exhibits antimicrobial activities against many bacteria that adhere to surfaces of certain vegetables.

The team concluded that up to 80 percent of bacterial population were killed after 15 minutes exposure to the Sweet Vidalia Onion juice.

"BPC students shared the results of their hard work with diverse groups of their peers as well as with several scientists in the field of microbiology," stated Said, who mentored the students through the research project.

"They had the chance to develop the skills necessary to present research results effectively, receive feedback on their work, attain a Travel Award and gain a published abstract for their resumes."

Of the experience, Sanders said: "The conference was a great experience for me as a student and a future teacher."

"This conference gave me an opportunity to not only interact with fellow students but also a chance to discuss ideas with experienced scientists," Altman said. "I feel fortunate to be able to participate in all stages of our research, from setting the experiment to collecting, analyzing and presenting the data in an open format."

Cox said she enjoyed the "togetherness" and bonding experience the project provided. "We came together, presented our experiment and came back with memories we will never forget. I am very proud to be a part of BPC's biology program," she added.

Said also acknowledged the administrative support of Dr. David Smith, Brewton-Parker's president, and Provost Dr. Ron Melton, who encourage integration of research and education and from which Brewton-Parker College has emerged as a leader in undergraduate research.

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Brewton-Parker College Science Club members (from left) Chase Altman, Marsha Dyer, Jason Sanders and Jennifer Cox stand in front of the project for which they received a Travel Award at the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, which convened Nov. 7-9 in Gainesville, Fla. (Photo courtesy Dr. William Said)