Student Research on Display during Capstone

The Capstone Festival, Mary Baldwin University’s annual exhibition of student research, returns to campus next week to highlight the diverse range of study among the school’s top scholars.

Thirty-four students will present papers, multimedia work, audio-visual sessions, and posters during the event May 9, which is open to the general public and represents the culminating work for some of the college’s brightest students, as nominated by their professors.

Asma Shethwala presented a poster on polycystic ovarian syndrome during the 2012 Capstone Festival.

This year’s festival includes three participants — Katharine Given, Meredith Miller, and Aubrey Sparks — who are each nominated for two different projects, a Capstone record. There are also a record-breaking eight Capstone presenters who represent the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs and a record number of men taking part in the festival this year.

A common theme for three Capstone participants is the environmental effects of estrogenic compounds. Angelica Fleming’s poster presentation will explore estrogenic activity of thermal receipt paper; Lauren Green’s presentation with multimedia support will examine the destruction of Bisphenol A, an endocrine disrupter found in waste water, and Bisphenol S through ozonation; and Ben Lacy’s poster presentation will address endocrine-disrupting compounds and instances of intersex in red-breasted sunfish.

“These projects represent an excellent example of interdisciplinary work and cross-collaboration with faculty,” said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Peter Ruiz-Haas. “They involve students and faculty in biology and chemistry, and they all complement and/or intersect one another, either by measuring the possible biological effects of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in fish or measuring the amounts of various EDCs in a variety of consumer products and their toxicity on model organisms. A third approach is to find what to do with these substances and treat the water to make it safe. Here is where chemistry comes into play — where Lauren Green seeks to use ozone to destroy these pollutants.”

The tradition of Mary Baldwin’s Capstone Festival dates back to the 19th century, when all final examinations were held in public, and members of the Board of Trustees and townspeople attended. Today, Capstone underscores Mary Baldwin’s unique commitment to undergraduate research.