September 9, 1996
Removal of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Solutions
With the heightened awareness of the need to protect the environment,
industry has been forced to deal with increasingly stringent environmental
regulations. A growing number of methods to remove pollutants from waste water
are utilized in industry. The purpose of this research was to remove heavy metals
from aqueous solution by encapsulation. The method involved the addition of
concrete and other materials which entrap the heavy metals. The concentrations of
metals were determined by atomic absorption. Three different treatments were used
and were shown to be effective in removing zinc and iron. It was also found that the
detection limit of atomic absorption was not sufficiently low to compare the
effectiveness of the treatments.
September 16, 1996
Fish Food Supplementation with Omega 3 Fatty Acids
In many studies, dietary omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help
prevent heart disease in humans. Fish is a ood source of these fatty acids but the
omega-3 content of fish is variable. Cold water fish tend to have a higher
concentration than arm water fish. In this experiment, three replicate tanks of 19
Tilapia (a warm water fish) were fed either standard chow or how nriched with 10%
flax seed oil, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids in an attempt to alter the fatty acid
content in the flesh. rowth rate was not affected by diet. The fatty acids were
extracted, transesterfied, and quantified using the gas chromatograph. Flesh of fish
fed the diet high in omega-3 fatty acids had greater total fat, less oleic acid and more
long chain omega-3 fatty acids than that of the fish fed control.
C. Reed Rossell, Jr.
September 30, 1996
Habitat Use by Small Mammals in a Remnant Forest-Gap Bog
Many wildlife species are closely associated with specific structural
and compositional components of vegetational communities. The habitat associations
for many species are unknown, especially in rare communities. I studied
the structure and vegetational composition of a remnant forest-gap bog
in Graham County, North Carolina during the summer of 1995 to investigate
the habitat associations of small mammals in this rare community type.
I collected habitat and small microtopography, herbaceous, understory,
and overstory layers. Five species of mammals occurred in the bog including
the southern flying squirrel, short-tailed shrew, meadow jumping mouse,
white-footed mouse, and the golden mouse. Because of sample size
constraints, the white-footed and golden mouse were the only species used in the statistical analysis. An Analysis of Variance ndicated that both species of mice preferred areas in the bog that did not have an extensive herbaceous cover, but did have a substantial canopy closure and high tree density. These results have important implications for establishing restoration goals and bjectives for disturbed forest-gap bogs throughout the southern Appalachians.
October 7, 1996
The Efficacy of Companion Planting Rosemarius and Allium with
spp to Control Cabbage Looper Damage
As the threat of environmental and human poisoning by agricultural
pesticides looms, alternatives to chemical controls are increasingly needed.
Companion planting offers a non-poisonous, safe way to reduce damage done by
insects and other pests, as well as reducing the cost of other resources. According to
the repellent crop set forth by the Rodale Institute, the smell of Rosemarinus
(rosemary) and/or Allium (onions) will repel Pieris rapae and Trichopulsia ni when
planted as companions with Brassica oleracea (cabbage), thus reducing damage by
those insects to the cabbage. In this experiment, white cabbage cv. Early Jersey
Wakefield was intercropped with white onions and prostrate rosemary. Two separate,
consecutive experiments were run within the same growing season. Insect
populations were measured periodically. Leaf area damage and biomass were
assessed at the end of the growing period. Data on Trichoplusia ni was unobtainable
due to low populations. An analysis of variance showed that in the first run, there
was no significant difference in the amount of damage done to monocropped cabbage
as compared to those grown with companions. However, the second run, more
successful in terms of seedling survival and plant maturity, showed that cabbages
grown with onions suffered significantly less damage than those grown alone or with
rosemary, thus supporting the hypothesis that onions are repellent to cabbage moth
caterpillars. Evidence suggests that osemary may be attracting Pieris rapae. More
research on this observation is needed.
Donald F. Collins
October 28, 1996
Astronomy Research at Warren Wilson College with CCD Camera and
A Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) camera coupled to a small (8-inch
aperture) telescope allows quantitative measurements of a number of astronomical
phenomena. Three types of measurements will be described using this equipment:
Jupiter eclipse timings, cluster color photometry, and studies of comets. Other types
of measurements will be briefly discussed.
November 4, 1996
A Study of Methanotrophic Activity in the Beaufort Sea
Methane concentrations are currently rising at a rate of about 1% per
Because methane plays an important role in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, it is
extremely important that we identify possible methane sources and quantify their
contribution to the Global Methane Budget. This research determined the fate of
methane produces on the ocean floor in the Beaufort Sea of Alaska. Radiolabled
carbon (C14) was used as a tracer to determine the amount of methane consumed by
bacteria. The data from this experiment suggest that this area of the Beaufort Sea may
be a seasonal source of methane to the atmosphere as the ice recedes during warmer
months and the trapped methane is released. The data also suggest that there may be
a clathrate in the area which is releasing methane into the water column.
November 11, 1996
Weeds as Indicators of Soil Conditions
Anecdotal information and farmer's folklore suggest that weeds are
indicative of specific soil conditions. However, little research has been done to
evaluate these claims. The purpose of this study was to methodically test two
suggestions: Chenopodium album (common lamb's quarters) will indicate phosphorus
levels; and presence of Polygonum persicaria (common lady's thumb) will indicate
low pH. A greenhouse study was conducted to test the hypothesis that there is a
positive correlation between the growth of C. album and the amount of available
phosphorus. Potted plants were grown with different levels of available phosphorus.
Average weight gained was determined for each treatment; ANOVA and Turkey
Multiple Comparisons were performed. The data from this study support the
hypothesis, (p<0.01). A field study was conducted to test two other hypotheses. One,
that there is a positive correlation between populations of C. album and available
phosphorus; and two, test weeds, as well as all other weeds, were identified and
counted. Simple linear regression was performed on plant populations versus soil
parameters. The data collected do not support either hypothesis; however, a positive
correlation between P. persicaria and pH was found (p=0.0543). Correlation was also
determined between other weeds and available phosphorus and/or pH. There are
countless variables in the field which likely account for variation in the data.
December 2, 1996
The Study of the Estrogenic Properties of American Ginseng
Ginseng has been studied for thousands of years as a folk medicine by
Chinese, Korean, and Appalachian communities. The use of ginseng is often based
on the "Doctrine of Signatures" which is the belief that the shape of the herb or
plant tells us what part of the body it will heal. Ginseng is used to treat many of the
ailments of the body like stress, fatigue, stomach and bowel problems, and to lower
blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Research on ginseng has been focused on
ginseng saponins or ginsenosides. Sanada isolated more than thirteen ginsenosides
and identified them using thin layer chromatography. Sanada's work gave future
researchers the means to identify ginsenosides in different kinds of ginseng. This
project involved the development of a method to analyze ginsenosides by thin layer
chromatography. The quality of the tlc plates was found to be critical. It was shown
that the ginseng extracts were stable for as long as two months. Finally, ginseng from
Sigma Chemical Company and a preparation from a local food health store were
shown to contain the active
April 21, 1997
Aflatoxins in Foods
The major family responsible for the production of Aflatoxins is the
Aspergillus A. flavus. Aflatoxins are closely related family of mycotoxins
which at high levels they can be carcinogenic. In 1965 the FDA (Food and
Drug Administration) put regulatory limits of 20 Parts Per Billion on Aflatoxins.
I extracted samples from six brands of peanut butter, as well as WWC corn,
and humus. The samples were then run through solid phase minicolumns, with
a chloroform acetone mixture, to collect the aflatoxins. Then the samples
were analyzed by TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography). Levels considerably
below the FDA's limits were detected, with no trends obvious, in all types
of samples. This suggests that Aflatoxins are present but not at levels
which should cause alarm. This also demonstrates the problems with sampling
aflatoxins are spread out sporadically in the foods.
September 15, 1997
The Effect of Garlon 3A Tryclopr On Cut Stems of Oriental Bittersweet
Oriental bittersweet is an exotic species of woody vine that was introduced
the US in the mid 1800's for ornamental purposes. This vine quickly became
naturalized in many parts of the eastern US. The twinning nature of this vine combined
with its lack of predators and remarkable growth rates have caused sever problems in
some areas of the country. This vine has also become a problem on large portions of the
Warren Wilson College forest. Oriental Bittersweet has a wide range of shade tolerances
and sprouts vigorously when cut, or suddenly released to the sunlight. The nature of the
vine makes it difficult to control especially when it has managed to become well
established. My hypothesis is that a small application of Garlon 3A to the cut stem
would kill more root systems than cutting alone. The college has a large work force, but
very little money so a labor intensive solution that allows the use of very little chemical
over a broad area seemed to be th obvious solution, both ecologically and economically.
September 22, 1997
An Analysis of Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana Mill.) Near Berea
A study was done to confirm and quantity the decline of a stand of Virginia
Pine on Warren Wilson College, and to provide a sound base for a long-term study to
determine the cause of decline. Various tree characteristics were measured and
recorded for analysis using a Geographical Information System (GIS). All data was
entered into computer, then displayed and analyzed using the Idrisi™ GIS
The factors indicative of growth that were examined were tree diameter,
crown height, height to first live limb, and diameter growth per year. Also recorded
were the number of P. virginiana within a 10m2 plot, and the relative elevation of that
The results show a good correlation between average annual growth, and
elevation. According to Afyuni et al (1993), relative elevation is a good measure of soil
moisture. Site inspection also confirmed altitude correlation with soil moisture.
Therefore, it seems that soil moisture is a major factor affecting growth patterns within
October 13, 1997
Comparison of Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) Chick
Diets Based on Corn or Pearl Millet
Corn and pearl millet were compared as grain sources in diets for northern
bobwhite quail chicks. Both diets either met or exceeded the nutritional requirements
of the bobwhite quail chicks, with protein content of 29 percent. The performance
parameters measured were rate of gain, mortality, preference, and feed intake. Each
diet was fed to the chicks for three weeks. The rate of grain did not differ significantly
between the two test groups (P > .05). The mortality also showed no significant
difference (P > .05). The pearl millet diet cost $0.23 per pound and the corn diet cost
$0.18 per pound. The feed cost per finished bird with the pearl millet diet was $0.076,
and it was $0.078 with the corn diet.
October 27, 1997
Cadmium Analysis and Comparison in Tobacco Products
From the Director of "Without a Trace Element", "Chrome Plated Heart",
and "Zinc Smelter Summer" comes the toxic transition metal thriller of the decade,
"Cadmium Analysis and Comparison in Tobacco Products." In this "Heavy Metal
Pollution" of the nineties, Kerry Shepherd wrote, acted, and produced the finest
analytical chemistry of his career.
Cadmium, a soft, silver-white metal that occurs naturally in the earth's
crust is the
elusive kidney killer who hides in people's bodies. Odorless and colorless, cadmium
roams the earth quietly as a solid, but as the popularity of nickel-cadmium batteries,
zinc mining and galvanization rises, so does the power of this vengeful metal. You
cannot escape the invisible chemolith.
Kerry Shepherd plays an undergraduate chemistry student hell-bent on
true scope of the disastrous cadmium on it's own turf. Kerry analyzes the cadmium
content in many different forms of tobacco, the dark steed of this devilish metal. Kerry
uncovers the data which suggests a conspiratorially similar concentration between all of
the products measured. But the serving sizes tell a different story -- one of significant
Finding low concentrations in each tobacco product is nothing more than
trap which Kerry narrowly escapes from to discover that the fourth dimension, time is
the real killer. Over years of accumulation, the cadmium was slowly mutating the entire
But you can't run from what you can't detect without a spectrophotometer…
November 3, 1997
Sourwood: A Distinctive Floral Honey
Honey is a unique and variable substance whose composition is noticeably effected by the floral source utilized by the honey bees in its production. At present the only common method of distinguishing between floral honeys is a time consuming and often inaccurate microscopic count of pollen grains present in the honey. There is a need for a reliable and feasible test.
Sourwood honey is endemic to the Appalachians where the Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arborium) is dense enough in population to support nearly pure honey production in late June and July when the trees bloom. It is a popular honey which gains high prices at market and is an asset to the area. In this research Sourwood, Orange Blossom and wildflower honey were compared.
The tastes of floral honeys are a result of phenolic chemicals called flavenoids. These flavenoids make up a very small percentage of the honey. Sugars make up 98% of any type of honey. Ferreres (1992) found a flavenoid marker in Orange Blossom honey. His method was adapted to test Sourwood honey. Using a pretreatment chromatograph the sugars were filtered out and substances of intermediate polarity, including the phenols, were retained. Flavenoid standards were prepared and two thin layer chromatography (TLC) systems were developed. These methods were used to separate and identify these known flavenoids. The phenolic honey extracts containing unknown flavenoids were analyzed by the TLC systems and no conclusive separation was obtained.
November 10, 1997
Alternate Fuels and Vehicle Exhaust Emissions
Introduction to the field
Alternative fuels may offer a solution to two key problem of motor vehicles: What goes in, and what comes out. Today, the vast majority of vehicles use gasoline or diesel fuel, both derived from non-renewable, and soon to be depleted, resource: petroleum. Drilling, processing, and transporting 8 million barrels of petroleum a day, as well as product of its combustion, posses significant environmental problems.
While ideal combustion produces water and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), real combustion products include carbon monoxide (CO), a poison; nitrogen oxides (NOx), source of acid rain and smog; hydrocarbons (HC), also source of smog, and other toxins. Vehicles are responsible for 30-35% of carbon dioxide, 60-90% of CO, 45-50% NOx, and about 39% of toxic gases emissions in the United States.
Recent accomplishments - switch to unleaded gasoline and low-sulfur diesel, closed-loop controlled electronic fuel injection, three-way catalytic converter - have lowered ‘traditional’ emissions significantly. Because half of the emissions is produced by less than 10% vehicles,. emission inspection programs were started to identify and repair these "gross polluters". A well-tuned, modern gasoline powered engine produces most of its emissions during cold start and full-throttle operation.
Reduction of dependence on petroleum and of greenhouse gas and ‘traditional’ emissions is possible by both social and technological changes, one of which is switch to alternative fuels: methanol, ethanol, compressed and liquefied natural gas (CNG, LNG), propane (LPG), hydrogen, and biodiesel. Electric or hybrid electric vehicles using fuel cell, flywheel, ultracapacitors, and advanced battery technology are also under development.
November 17, 1997
The Effects of Water Soluble Extracts of Echinacea
purpurea on bovine Hyaluronidase
Echinacea extracts are often used as an ointment to prevent infection in wounds or as a throat spray to prevent strep-throat. The water soluble extracts of the plant Echinacea purpurea are believed to be effective medicinally due to their inhibitory effects on the enzyme hyaluronidase. Hyaluronidase is an enzyme found in many strains of bacteria. The enzyme allows the bacteria to spread through tissue by digesting hyaluronic acid, which is a polysaccharide that holds tissue cells together. I am measuring the effects of these water soluble extracts of Echinacea hyaluronidase, thus Echinacea may inhibit the spread of bacteria through tissue. I will also be testing bacterial hyaluronidase to further support my hypothesis that Echinacea does inhibit hyaluronidase.
November 24, 1997
The Age Structure of an Extensive Patch of Rhododendron (Rhododendron
maximum L.) on Jones Mountain
Great rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) is an indigenous species of the Appalachians and common understory species to this area. They are found on sites with plenty of moisture and grow in dense thickets on mountain slopes and near streams. Because they do form dense thickets they will out compete most other vegetation including trees and herbaceous plants. With this study I wanted to determine the age structure of the stand to first see the age of the rhododendron present and second to understand how the patch becomes established.
The site is a dense thicket of rhododendron located on Jones Mountain. There are many rhododendron thickets on the mountain, but this is the most extensive one. I ran a transect through the center of the site I chose to do my study and set out thirty plots. From each plot I sampled the largest and if present the smallest stems. I also recorded the height and diameter of the stems cut. With this information I was able to give a graphical representation of the age, height and diameter of the stand.
Oxidation of Fats in Conventional and Organic Foods
December 1, 1997
Oxidation of fats can be a serious problem if fatty foods are not stored properly, if they are stored for too long a period of time, or if they are cooked under extremely high temperatures. The mechanism of oxidation of fats involves free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and have been thought to promote premature aging. Free radicals can be trapped by antioxidants, such as natural vitamin E and synthetic butylated hydroxtoluene(BHT).
The goals of this study were to determine a reliable, affordable test to detect oxidation of fats in foods, to test the oxidation of fats from conventional foods and to compare the oxidation found in fats from fast food restaurants to the oxidation levels of other fast food restaurants.
Remediation of Water Contaminated with Heavy Metals
December 8, 1997
Heavy metals are among some of the most harmful pollutants. Since the beginning of civilization and particularly since the industrial revolution, humans have been utilizing and discarding heavy metals. Due to the increased awareness and the need to clean up the environment, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 placed the EPA in charge of proper management and disposal of hazardous wastes, including heavy metals. One method for the disposal of heavy metals, and the process of interest in this study, in encapsulation.
Encapsulation is a process of waste fixation. An encapsulation material will coat the heavy metal with a webbing that traps the waste and prevents release to the environment. I compared the three encapsulation treatments with respect to their availability to trap heavy metal zinc ions. The three polymers were hycraulic cement, a "homemade" mixture(Mixture B), and a polymer manufactured by the Colloidal Environmental Technologies Company(CETCO), known as RM-10II. To compare the polymers, different amounts of a polymer were added to beakers containing 100ml of 30ppm zinc solutions. The amounts of polymer added were 0.5g, 1.0g, and 1.5g. Three replicates of each amount were prepared, yielding a total of nine samples for each treatment and a total of 27 samples for all three treatments. The encapsulated waste was isolated by vacuum filtration. Results show that Mixture B is the least expensive and most efficient treatment for removal of the heavy metal zinc. Because the encapsulated waste was colloidal, filtration problems were encountered. Several filtering techniques are currently being explored to determine the most efficient filtration method.
December 15, 1997
The Chemistry of Oral Bacteria
Many different bacterial flora populate the human body. There are a diverse collection of bacteria found in the mouth region. It is the purpose of this research to establish a method for studying oral bacterial populations through the analyzation of bacterial fatty acid components. Since every bacterial species has its own unique profile of fatty acid compositions we can assume that6 a combination of all bacterial species will create a framework for studying the entire population. In the process of this research a test for analyzing bacterial populations of the mouth has been established and preliminary explorations have begun.