New anaerobic chamber aids science research at AU

Thu, 2013-08-22 09:11 -- univcomm
August 22, 2013

The Department of Biology at Anderson University has acquired a new anaerobic chamber. This chamber allows for students to grow organisms that can only survive in the absence of oxygen. “The new anaerobic chamber allows students to grow things they have never seen before, while providing them with tools to do important experiments,” said Dr. Blake Janutolo, dean of the College of Science and Humanities.

Before this chamber was placed in the department, students attempted to grow anaerobic plants and organisms, but results were not accurate since the correct tools were not being used.

“There were two main needs that led to us obtaining the chamber,” said Dr. Kimberly Lyle-Ippolito, professor of biology. “The first was for anaerobic tests in microbiology. We have attempted tests for 12 years, and they have never worked because we haven’t had the proper catalyst. Second, form consulting needs to grow specific spores, which can only be done anaerobically. They need the spores in order for students to do the tests.”

The new anaerobic chamber operates by creating a vacuum that voids the enclosed space of oxygen. To use the chamber, students must place their hands in gloves attached to the device. The chamber allows students to see how anaerobic cultures are grown. It will aid in teaching microbiology courses for nursing majors. The chamber will allow nursing students to see how these organisms would grow, just like in a hospital setting. The new device will also be used for biology and chemistry majors, who will get to work with it in their independent studies.

Aurum Consulting, a consulting firm that was started by the faculty of the Department of Physical Sciences and Engineering, contributed funds to acquire the anaerobic chamber. This consulting group gives students an opportunity to be involved in corporate research and development, giving them hands-on experience in the lab. This is done by working with local small businesses and giving them opportunities to have their products tested and developed through different scientific methods.

As part of the requirements for the senior science seminar class, students are required to create and test an experiment. Alex Karel, a 2013 AU grad who majored in chemistry, conducted research that consisted of growing liquid bacteria. The bacteria were placed on trays to create spores, and these spores are being used by Aurum Consulting to test antimicrobial chemicals. The research will determine the chemicals that will kill these spores, which are the leading cause of infections in hospitals.

Through this experience, Karel developed a new perspective on the relationship between science and products used in the healthcare industry, and gained an advantage for applying to graduate school.

“I’ve had the chance to actively develop experimental science methods and test them,” said Karel. “Usually, as an undergrad, you are just running the test with no real say in setting them up, and I actually ran the analysis on them.”

— Leah Streeval is a 2013 graduate of Anderson University, majoring in communication arts and minoring in entrepreneurship. Streeval is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.