Campbell student receives grant to study microbes

July 15, 2009 | Leave a Comment

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Buies Creek, N.C.-Campbell University student Diana Norden received a $1,000 grant from North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) to study three unidentified microorganisms. Her teacher and mentor, Dr. Michelle Suhan Thomas, said the research is part of a project that Campbell is participating in with Dr. Christopher Ellis of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park.

"Dr. Ellis and another group of researchers actually isolated the microbes," Thomas said. "Diana is trying to characterize them as to how they grow, what kind of environment they require, what types of carbon sources they feed upon and to determine other characteristics."

Norden, who is from Sweden, is a rising senior majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. She is currently working as a summer intern at the Los Alamos National Laboratory satellite lab in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

"The work I'm doing here has nothing to do with the NCICU grant," she said, "but it is still exciting. I have been looking at bacteria living in or close to the national nuclear waste isolation plant not far from here."

Her Campbell research could ultimately lead to the development of a new antibiotic or to the organisms' use in bioremediation (using microbes to break down toxic waste), Thomas said. "The intent is that these organisms could have some properties about them that would be advantageous to society," said Thomas.

"I am very excited about this grant," said Norden, who's discovered there is no language barrier in science. "To be honest, I was not really expecting it. There were a lot of applications and only six students in North Carolina who received the grant."

Thomas said Norden is a phenomenal student. "She is extremely bright, very quick, meticulous and has so many qualities that will make her successful in the lab. She is also a wonderful person," she added.

Diana Norden is the daughter of Kerstin and Ralf Norden of Nykoping, Sweden. Following her graduation from Campbell, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry, organic chemistry or organic metallic chemistry.

Dr. Michelle Suhan Thomas is an associate professor of biological sciences at Campbell. She received a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology, graduating cum laude from Grove City College in Pa. Thomas earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from West Virginia University. Her research interest is in the development of genetic systems by which to study bacteria and virulence mechanisms of microbial pathogens. She is also the advisor to the Premed Allied Health Honor Society at Campbell.

Photo Copy: Campbell student Diana Norden works in the laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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