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Lycoming College junior biology and chemistry major Jordan Krebs of Berwick, Pa., has been selected to participate in the Amgen Scholars Program at the California Institute of Technology. The competitive Amgen Scholars Program provides hundreds of undergraduate students with the opportunity to engage in a hands-on research experience at some of the world's leading institutions.
During his paid, summer internship, Krebs will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaren, a senior research scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, studying radiation-resistant bacteria that have been isolated from the cleanrooms where interplanetary spacecraft are assembled.
Ensuring the sterility of these spacecraft minimizes the risk of contaminating other planets, moons or asteroids with Earth microbes. To study the bacteria, Krebs will use a technology called a phenotype microarray, which uses a set of 20, 96-well plates to measure almost 2,000 characteristics of an organism at once.
"My Lycoming classes and research experience have prepared me well for working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology," said Krebs. "If I would not have taken the opportunity to start researching potentially novel bacteria with Dr. Jeff Newman [assistant professor of biology at Lycoming] during my freshman year, I would not be studying bacteria that have extreme UV and gamma radiation resistance."
"At Lycoming, we are one of very few primarily undergraduate institutions to also have the instrument used to perform the phenotype microarray test," said Newman. "I look forward to Jordan returning to Lycoming with the experience to be able to conduct such studies in my lab."
The Biology Department at Lycoming is dedicated to helping students gain hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Past internships have been held with the National Cancer Institute, Case Western Reserve University, the National Institutes of Health and Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Lycoming College is a national liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. It is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News and World Report. Founded in 1812 in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation.