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Four DeSales Students Receive Coveted Pennsylvania Academy of Science Research Grants

by Janelle Hill Apr 24, 2019

For the second year in a row, students performing research in the Department of Natural Science are receiving recognition and revenue from the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. 

Veronika Tews (above, left), Claudio Velardo (above, center), Emily Jacobson (above, right), and Sapanna Chantarawong (not pictured) are among the 29 students from 14 different Pennsylvania colleges and universities to receive the coveted research grants. Each DeSales student’s grant is worth $700—the highest amount offered by the academy this year. 

“It’s very exciting,” says Jacobson, a medical studies major. “We were nervous because we were told there were a lot of grants that were submitted this year.”

Jacobson and Chantarawong’s research focuses on biomaterial rejection and whether curcumin and piperine can prevent the body from negatively responding to implantable devices, such as pacemaker leads and vascular stents. 

Velardo is looking into the role of the anterior open gene and its effect on the eye development of insects, while Tews’ research centers on an epidermal growth factor signaling pathway and how it affects the formation of eggs in an insect.

“There are lots of things that we want to do and getting this money will help us purchase a lot of the expensive materials that we need to do this research.”

 Veronika Tews, biology major

The students had to write the grants, which were then reviewed by Pennsylvania Academy of Science faculty members. Dr. Austen Barnett serves as a mentor to Tews and Velardo, while Dr. Joshua Slee advises Chantarawong and Jacobson. 

“In many ways, it validates their hard work and dedication to their research projects,” says Slee, assistant professor of biology. “It shows that here at DeSales, we are doing top-quality research that is fundable to exterior agencies.”