Young Harris College Science Students Win Top Prizes at Georgia Academy of Science Meeting
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Young Harris College students Veronica Pablo Raymundo and Jordan Pandolph won two top prizes at the Georgia Academy of Science (GAS) annual meeting in March. Pablo Raymundo took the top talk prize in the Biomedical section of the event, while Pandolph took the top talk prize in the Chemistry section.
Pablo Raymundo’s project tested crumble beads found in turf fields. She incubated the beads in different solvents to extract any chemicals. She then tested such chemicals on donated mouse liver cells, looking for any link in a pathway that could lead to cancer. She found a link in activating a pathway that could cause cancer, but only in a solvent.
“I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring Veronica over the past four years,” said YHC Professor of Biology and Pablo Raymundo’s research advisor, Dr. Jennifer Schroeder. “I’m very proud of how much she’s matured as a person, student, and researcher. With this recognition by the Georgia Academy of Science for her capstone research project, her confidence continues to grow. I’m excited to see where she will go from here.”
Pandolph’s project dealt with the kudzu plant. He discovered a path toward making a sustainable biofuel out of this invasive pest plant, and he is now taking his project even further.
“I’m especially proud of Jordan because this project was entirely his idea, and he has done a great job seeking help from the right people when he has needed it,” said YHC Associate Professor of Chemistry and one of Pandolph’s research advisors, Dr. Charlie Swor. “His project is even multidisciplinary and collaborative.” Dr. Swor has worked with YHC Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Andrea Kwiatkowski to co-advise Pandolph in his work, and they have received additional assistance from other YHC faculty including Professor of Biology Dr. Paul Arnold, Instructor of Biology Dr. Steven Riera, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Amanda Song. Suzanne Moore, a junior biology major at the College, has also helped with this large project.
"I've worked with many research students over the years, but Jordan has impressed me with his enthusiasm and initiative on this project,” said Dr. Kwiatkowski. “I look forward to working with him in optimizing the conversion of kudzu starch to ethanol."
The GAS aims to provide an opportunity for students to present their independent research and publish their work in the Georgia Journal of Science. This is a critical component of the training of new scientists, so the YHC Division of Mathematics, Science, and Technology often takes anywhere from 10-20 students to a meeting for them to present and learn from other scientists.
“I’m very proud of all of our students who participated in this year’s Georgia Academy of Science meeting, but I’m particularly proud of Veronica and Jordan in their achievements,” said Dr. Paul Arnold, Councilor-at-Large for the GAS executive board. “These students have worked very hard on their research and to have their work recognized by scientific peers from all over the state is certainly a great affirmation of what they have done.”
Dr. Arnold serves alongside other YHC faculty in the GAS, including Dr. Swor, Dr. Kwiatkowski, and Dr. Schroeder, who serve as chairs and on committees for the organization. These faculty, along with the rest of the College, are extremely pleased with these students’ scientific accomplishments.
About Young Harris College
Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and Professional Studies. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit yhc.edu.