MSU President's Newspaper Column

June 5, 2021

Scientific research provides invaluable experiences for Mayville State students

Mayville State University students have an extra-special opportunity to conduct real-world research. The research projects provide not only invaluable learning experiences, but also financial benefits, as these are paid positions. MSU student researchers have made presentations demonstrating their findings at local, regional, and national meetings, which is not only good experience, but also makes for outstanding resumes.

This summer, Mayville State professors Dr. Joseph Mehus, Dr. Tom Gonnella, Dr. Khwaja Hossain, and Dr. Mike Kjelland each have projects they’re heading up. Topics include mosquitoes, the binding of coumarins to human serum albumin, alternate uses of wheat, and development of scaffolds for use in breast and pancreatic cancer treatment.

This is big-time stuff, and we are extremely proud of our faculty and students for the important work they are doing right here on the Mayville State campus.

Dr. Joseph Mehus, Science Mathematics, and Agribusiness Division Chair is leading a group of researchers who are continuing their mosquito research. For the last year, MSU research students have been actively studying mosquitoes found in Mayville-Portland and surrounding sites in Traill County.

The group invites the public to join them for a public forum where they’ll cover topics such as the reason to study mosquitoes, which mosquito species have been identified in their research, what trends are seen in mosquito numbers through the summer, influences on mosquito population numbers, and future plans of the research group. The forum begins at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 7 and will be held in the MSU Campus Center Luckasen Room. All are invited.

Dr. Tom Gonnella is working together with students Simon Barker and Terrel Voth this summer. They are examining the binding of coumarins to human serum albumin, the most abundant protein in blood plasma. It transports a wide variety of substances, such as hormones, fatty acids, and drugs to target organs. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant, anti-anti-retroviral, anti-arthritic, anti-asthmatic, and anti-oxidant properties. The work of this group is being funded through the statewide ND-INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence).

Led by Dr. Khwaja G. Hossain, Mayville State is partnering with NSF-ND EPSCoR (North Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Track-1 on two projects.

Trevor Gravseth, an undergraduate biology student is working on an INSPIRE-ND project which involves the utilization of wheat bran for industrial resources. This research may lead to alternative uses of wheat and earn extra cash for wheat farmers in North Dakota, hence having a positive impact in the rural economy.

Mayville State biology students Brooke Roeges, Haley Boechler, Taylor Stegman, and Madisen Knudsvig are involved in the research activities of a ND-ACES project. Brooke has been working to develop mesh-like scaffold that will mimic the cellular environment outside of the human body. It will be used in human cell proliferation and tissue engineering for breast cancer intervention. Haley, Taylor, and Madisen have been awarded three different dREU (Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduate) awards under the ND-ACES project. Haley is developing polymeric mesh-like scaffolds utilizing a polymer extracted from wheat bran. It could be used for cell proliferation and tissue engineering. Taylor has been working on the influence of wheat bran bioactive compounds on growth and development gut bacteria that could boost the immunity of humans. Madisen has recently started on the isolation and characterization of Quinoa, a medicinal herb which could be used in the preparation of scaffolds for cell and tissue engineering.

INSPIRE-ND and ND-ACES projects not only help in developing research infrastructure at Mayville State University, but they also help students develop skill sets which are required in the recent advancement in biomedical and health science endeavors.

Dr. Mike Kjelland’s ND-EPSCoR summer research involves a project titled “3D Bioprinting Using Porcine Collagen Matric Scaffolding for 3D Pancreatic Cancer and Mesenchymal Stem Cell Culture, Treatment/Differentiation, and Cryopreservation.” Students Julia Kohls and Frida Garcia Kjelland are working on the project.

Wow! That’s a mouthful! These professors and their student researchers have my utmost respect. To know that this outstanding work is happening right on our campus makes me Comet Proud, and extremely happy for our students who are gaining experiences that will make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.