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04-18-2013

Student Worm Research Earns ASB Award

Following a presentation of his research, biology and chemistry major Matthew Boyce ’13 received the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB) Research Award in Microbiology April 12 for his paper “A Metagenomic Comparison of the Microflora from Vermicompost with the Intestinal Microflora from the Composting Worm Eisenia foetida.” Boyce contended against graduate students and faculty to win the $500 award, which was presented at ASB’s 74th annual meeting in Charleston, West Virginia. Under the guidance of Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Philip Rock, Boyce studied Eisenia foetida, commonly known as “red wigglers,” the most widely used worm species in the organic recycling process known as vermicomposting. His research was conducted using worms and compost from Virginia Wesleyan's very own “worm farm,” established by Rock in 2010 as a result of the President's Environmental Challenge Grant. Rock assisted Boyce with his project, helping the senior sort through months of collected data: “We turned up some interesting results that raise a bunch of new questions – typical in science!” Boyce will present his award-winning research again at VWC’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, taking place April 29-May 3. He has also been selected to participate in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He will be awarded a $5,500 fellowship to attend the 11-week program, where he will study “Measurement of Samples by Spinning Cell LA-ICP-MS.”

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