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Muskingum College biology professor receives grant for DNA analysis system

Muskingum College Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Amy J. Santas, working collaboratively with Muskingum College faculty -- Drs. Brian P. Bergstrom, James L. Dooley, Oluwatoyin Osunsanya, and Deepamali Perera -- recently received a grant from LI-COR Biosciences for a state-of-the-art automated DNA analysis system.

The device will open a new world of study for Muskingum students, according to Dr. Santas. “We will have at our disposal a greater level of molecular biology tools than before, and that will make for more in-depth instruction. This is a special opportunity for both students and faculty,” she said. “The research potential for our students is almost limitless.” Molecular biology techniques have touched numerous disciplines within the sciences. The acquisition of the DNA analyzer will allow Muskingum College student researchers access to these cutting-edge molecular biology tools while they design and test their unique hypotheses.

AMY SANTASDr. Santas called the instrument “remarkable….It has applications in several disciplines and will be utilized in courses in the biology and chemistry departments as well as the molecular biology, neuroscience, and conservation science programs. She explained that the DNA analyzer can be used to conduct sequencing of DNA and to create an AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism) -- a type of fingerprinting of DNA. Use of this equipment will open new doors for students in such varied studies as cancer cell characteristics and conservation science.

“Having access to this technology better qualifies our students for graduate school and for the workplace in many different disciplines,” said Dr. Santas, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She earned her B.A. degree from Luther College.

Dr. Santas joined the faculty of Muskingum College in 2004 and had previously served as a post-doctoral scientist with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and with Immunex Corporation. She had also been a recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Resarch Service Award during her postdoctoral training.

LI-COR Biosciences, which produces the equipment and has awarded the grant, is recognized internationally for standard-setting innovation in plant science research and environmental monitoring.