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St. Kate’s students showcase research at the Capitol

It was the second consecutive day at the Minnesota State Capitol for St. Catherine University students Caitlyn Wright and Eleanor O’Neil, and it was no less exciting.

The social work majors joined hundreds of their peers and professionals in the field to rally for various causes on Social Work Day at the Capitol on April 7. The following day (Tuesday, April 8), the duo were talking to state lawmakers and lobbyists, and networking with undergraduate scholars from other private colleges.

Wright and O’Neil — along with Britta Wass, a St. Kate’s biology major — were among the 41 student-researchers at the 10th Annual Private College Scholars at the Capitol.

The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Private College Council. It celebrates the research and creative scholarship from Minnesota's 17 private colleges. A total of 30 projects from various disciplines were displayed, including two from St. Kate’s:

A Microenterprise Program Evaluation in Urban and Rural Minnesota
Seniors Caitlyn Wright and Eleanor O’Neil, who are both interested in poverty issues, worked with faculty mentor Richa Danju to evaluate the effectiveness of a microenterprise program initiated in 2010 (as a solution to poverty) by a St. Paul-based nonprofit organization. Among their findings: the program was successful in covering business costs, increasing business skills and bolstering support for entrepreneurs; but it did not significantly increase the entrepreneurs’ individual income.

“Plant Endophytes as Novel Sources of Antimicrobials: Characterizing Fungal Isolates from Alfalfa”
St. Kate’s student Britta Wass collaborated with faculty mentor Dawn Foster-Hartnett to study the antimicrobial production of endophytes (a fungal species) in alfalfa. The researcher cultured and identified over 45 fungal strains from crop samples grown in Minnesota and Idaho. At least 10 produced antimicrobial substances that inhibit bacterial and fungal species in initial screens. These compounds may play a role in protecting alfalfa from disease, or they could potentially be used in clinical research for new sources of antibiotics.

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April 8, 2014 by Pauline Oo

See also: Liberal Arts, Students