Kerry Rodgers

Student garners state honors

Biology research earns senior Oklahoma Academy of Science award

By Erin Engelke

For senior Kerry Rodgers, a biochemistry major, the November meeting with the Oklahoma Academy of Science was only supposed to be an opportunity for him to present his research.

"I have been doing work on this particular project for about two years with biology professor Molly Hill," Rodgers said. "She is a mentor for the undergraduate research and I helped her with the work." The title of Rodgers' presentation was "Regulation of Human Cytokine Expression by the PPARs (Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptors.)

Hill said this is the first time an OC student has presented at OAS. "We are trying to get more OC students to these meetings so more people can know about Oklahoma Christian," Hill said. "When I got the call from OAS that Rodgers had won first place, I thought it was great, "Hill said. "There were other students from OSU, the University of Tulsa, OU and other schools, but Rodgers was by far the best speaker there." Three other students also work with Hill on this project.

"We are studying a receptor that could prevent people from an acute bacterial infection called septic shock," Hill said. "This infection is caused by a hormone called TNF made in the body. "If we can block the production of TNF, we might be able to prevent people from going into septic shock.

Rodgers studied with Hill last summer and, after his research Hill thought it was important for Rodgers to attend the meeting at the Oklahoma Academy of Science. "We had accumulated enough data to make a presentation, so it was appropriate that he present it," Hill said. Rodgers said the experience was valuable.

"The goal of OAS is to draw undergraduate into research graduate school," Rodgers said. "Most of the other students had taken a four- or eight-week stipend this summer and presented it, and this meeting allowed us to do something with our research by preparing a presentation for our peers."

Hill said their research is a start for finding treatments for septic shock. "This will give us a better understanding of how to devise drugs for treatment," Hill said. "This disease causes 50,000 to 100,000 deaths a year."

Rodgers said he hopes to continue on to become a surgeon and attend medical school at the University of Minnesota.