Marion campus students showcase research at Denman

News Release Date: 

Ohio State Marion students Travis Blanton, Paige Clark, and Bobbi Hupp-Wilds presented research abstracts at the 19th annual Denman Undergraduate Research Forum on Wednesday, March 26th at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC), on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Ohio State's Denman Forum welcomes hundreds of undergraduate researchers from across the university each year to show off their studies. Their projects seek to solve a gamut of complicated problems, from cancer to energy crises to discrimination.

Travis Blanton, junior majoring in biology
Mechanistic Insights into the Alkylation Reactions of Quinone Methide Precursors:
Studies Towards the Realkylation of Aged Acetylcholinesterase
Faculty Advisor:  Ryan Yoder

Ohio State Marion junior Travis Blanton has been conducting research in the field of computational chemistry.  Under the guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Ryan J. Yoder from The Ohio State University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Blanton is performing molecular modeling experiments to study the potential development of a small molecule therapeutic to reverse the effects of poisoning by chemical warfare agents. 

Chemical warfare agents, such as sarin, that were used during a chemical attack against the Syrian people in August 2013, present a clear and present danger to military and civilian populations. 

According to Dr. Yoder, this research is part of an ongoing collaboration with other faculty on the Columbus campus.  Studies being conducted focus on modeling the active site of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme which becomes inactive upon inhibition by molecules, such as sarin, ultimately leading to serious side effects or death. 

Blanton described several contributing factors toward his decision to pursue an undergraduate research project, but the main benefit was the opportunity to apply concepts that he’s learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems.

“Many times I hear my colleagues (fellow students) say that ‘they do not understand why the university dictates that they must learn something for their degree program,’ and then they question why they should learn it,” explained Blanton.

“When tackling a problem,” said Blanton, “it’s important to be able to identify everything that you currently know about it so that you can use that knowledge to either solve the problem or identify a method to solve the problem.”

“By doing undergraduate research,” he said, “I have had several instances where I’ve used concepts from multiple disciplines – mathematics, physics, even English – in my chemistry research.”


Paige Clark, freshman majoring in music education
Ecosystem Processes Revealed by Buried Forest Material, Walnut Woods, Ohio
Faculty Advisor:  Joel Barker

Ohio State Marion freshman music major Paige Clark expanded her intellectual pursuits outside of her major area of study through research.  Clark presented a poster on the findings she helped examine from buried forest remains from a site in Groveport, Ohio to determine environmental change in the region from the time that the remains were an active forest. 

According to faculty advisor Dr. Joel Barker, assistant professor in the department of earth sciences at Ohio State, the opportunity came about when a group was doing a wetland reclamation project and during the excavation they uncovered this buried forest material about 9 feet below the surface.  

“We (Ohio State) had the fortuitous opportunity to examine these remains to try to get an idea of what the environment might have been like in the past.  Paige has been working on picking out seeds, bugs, and anything else that might give us a hint of what the vegetation was like at the time this stuff got buried,” said Barker.  “We radio carbon dated the wood and it turns out this deposit is about 250 years old,” he added. 

Barker felt the chance for students to assist faculty in research and present their findings at research presentation forums like the Denman provide unique and invaluable opportunities to Ohio State students.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for undergrads to get exposed to scientific research as it is going on.  It’s good experience doing the research and then really good experience getting the opportunity to present it,” stated Dr. Barker.

“I have always been big into science and doing like science club and stuff like that.  I like finding new things and going out and seeing what new things can be discovered,” explained Clark.

Bobbi Hupp-Wilds, senior majoring in psychology

Gender Roles and Helping Behavior
Faculty Advisor:  Terri Pettijohn

Bobbi Hupp-Wilds centered her Denman research project on Gender Roles and Helping Behavior, under the tutelage of Ohio State Marion Professor of Psychology, Dr. Terry Pettijohn.

The goal of Hupp-Wilds’ research was to explore how the choice of gender role that we live, how our life experience or responsibility, and how our personality affect the helping situations we participate in. 

According to Hupp-Wilds, each of these key points may cause us to make choices in how much we help, when we help, and who we help.  She addressed these questions with a survey. The survey was broken into three parts: a BEM Sex Inventory to examine how a subject scores on a scale of masculine, feminine, or androgynous; a TIPI personality survey to see how the subject scores; and a survey of 40 situations in which a person would need help.

 “I think working with the undergrad research program at Ohio State helps enrich your educational experience,” said Hupp-Wilds.  “You are learning from other people’s ideas and creativity.” 

Hupp-Wilds explained this as the core of learning and getting back to how we perceived the world when we were young.

“There were students who researched dancing, music, and yoga,” she said.  “One student was researching a new plastic made out of corn.”

She explained it simply, “Like a child it (research) fosters inquisitiveness.” 

About the Denman Forum
The Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, now in its 19th year, is coordinated by the Undergraduate Research Office and supported by the Office of Research, the Office of Undergraduate Education, Mr. and Mrs. Denman, and other corporate and private donors. The Forum is an opportunity to showcase outstanding student research, scholarship, and creative activity and encourage all undergraduates to participate in these activities to enrich their undergraduate education.

Mr. and Mrs. Denman are long-time members of The Ohio State University community and also have established a Professorship for Clinical Research in Epilepsy. In addition, both are Inaugural Members of The Oval Society, established in 2010. Mr. Denman served as an Ohio State University Foundation Board Director (1985-2003) and is now an emeritus member of the Board, as well as a lifetime member of the President’s Club, The Ohio State Alumni Association, and the College of Medicine’s Order of Hippocrates. In 1996, the University presented him with a Distinguished Service Award.