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SOAR Spotlight: Meeghan Rossi '17

Glycoalkaloids and False Potato Beetle Eggs

Major/Minor: Chemistry/Psychology
Hometown: Albrightsville, PA
Project Mentor: Dr. Alison Holliday

Briefly describe your SOAR project.

For my project, I used High-Performance Liquid Chromatography to analyze false potato beetle eggs and try to detect glycoalkaloid compounds in them. The search was initiated because the darker colored eggs are eaten less by predators and we were trying to conduct if it was a chemical difference between those eggs and the lighter ones. We were also looking for glycoalkaloids because they are in the plants the beetles eat and they are toxic to many mammals.

Describe the origin of your project.

I approached Dr. Holliday, expressing interest of doing a SOAR project and she proposed this idea.

3. What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

Dr. Holliday is a very supportive mentor in the lab.  She is very knowledgeable and explained the answers to my questions which helped me along my journey.  As the project went on, she offered different ideas for me to look into and we started to conduct research from then on. It has been a pleasure to work with her throughout the semester.

4. What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

My biggest obstacle was not being able to determine a detection limit for my compounds.

5. What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from this experience was learning how to conduct research and find alternatives when I hit a bump in the road. I learned how to try several different methods all summer to see which was optimal for my research.

6. What was the result of your project?

My project was inconclusive.  I never found the compounds for sure, but also did not find that they were not there.

7. Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I am not sure what I will do next.  If I can continue this research, I would do so happily as an independent study in Spring 2017.

8. In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?

I feel blessed and grateful to have been awarded this opportunity. Learning how to conduct proper research and present it to others was one of the best things I learned from this experience.  Others should definitely apply for this opportunity because you never know what you like to do until you try it. I thought I disliked research, but I finished the summer knowing that I am passionate about research and wishing I had more time to continue SOAR.