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CAHNRS Undergrads Present Research During Annual WSU Mom’s Weekend

Posted by struscott | April 3, 2011

Food Science Major Develops Hot Ice Cream

Christina Martin Samuels

Ice cream is cold. Right? Not necessarily, according to Christina Martin Samuels, a senior majoring in food science at Washington State University.
Samuels has developed “Mint Blast,” a dual sensation ice cream that delivers spicy heat along with the traditional cold of the sweet treat.
“According to trends in the food industry, there is a large move toward ethnic flavors, bold flavors,” she said. “A love of spiciness is becoming more mainstream.”
Rather than flavoring the ice cream itself with spice, Samuels developed mini chocolate truffles heated up with cayenne, wasabi or jalapeno powder, which were blended into the ice cream. The ice cream is mint flavored to increase its cooling sensation.
Samuels said the biggest challenge in her research was finding the right level of heat for the truffles; they needed to be spicy enough to cause a heat sensation in the mouth, but not so hot they were off-putting to consumers.
Samuels was one of more than 30 students in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to receive an undergraduate research grant to conduct her work. Food Science Professor Stephanie Clark was her advisor for the project.

Video Highlights from the 2009 Undergraduate Creative Research Projects Presentations

Undergrads Research Could Contribute to a Larger Market for Grass-fed Beef

Grain-fed beef tastes better to some people, but grass-fed beef may be more nutritious. Research by Washington State University student Riley Mengarelli looks at how to balance the differences to expand markets for the beef industry.
“Among beef consumers, there is a relatively new trend toward grass-fed beef because of its high levels of Omega 3s,” said Mengarelli, a senior from Toppenish majoring in animal science. “Traditionally raised beef doesn’t have a lot of that.”
His research project focused on determining what level of Omega 3 fatty acids created an off flavor in beef. He added supplements of fish oil, a substance known to be high in the antioxidants, to hamburger patties and then conducted taste tests. “That is a common complaint from consumers of grass-fed beef, that it has a fishy flavor,” Mengarelli said.
Long term, his research could lead to new ways of pasturing grass-fed beef that would mitigate the off flavor and open new high-value markets for producers.
Mengarelli was one of more than 30 students in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to receive an undergraduate research grant to conduct his work. Animal Sciences professor Jan Busboom and associate professor Mark Nelson were his advisors for the project.

Student Life Guard Designs “Stay Put” Swim Wear

Tamara Hall

As a summer lifeguard much of her life, Tamara Hall knows well the dangers of “wardrobe malfunctions” while on the job.
“When you have to dive into the water, it seems that either the top comes up or the bottoms come down,” she said. So, the junior majoring in apparel design at Washington State University designed and developed a “monokini” bathing suit.

Hall focused first on fabric options, choosing a stretch cloth that allows some sun through to avoid drastic tan lines for the wearer. She then turned to structure.

“I went with a triangular shape for both fashion and fit,” she said. “It’s flattering for most figures and is more stable than a traditional one piece or two piece.”

She also tested a variety of buckles for the bottom part of the suit. The ones that worked best? “The kind that look like puzzle pieces that have to be twisted together,” Hall said.

Hall showed her swim suit at the annual WSU Moms Weekend Fashion Show April 3. She identified her target market as lifeguards, from teens to women in their mid-30s. Hall was one of more than 30 students in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to receive an undergraduate research grant to conduct her work. Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles professor Carol Salusso was her mentor for the project.

Mosquitoes Plus Virus Equals One-Two Punch for Victims

Júlia Pásztor

Are mosquitoes creating a “window of opportunity” for viruses to infect a host? Probably so, according to research by Júlia Pásztor, a junior majoring in animal sciences at Washington State University. Pásztor measured the antibody responses of domestic chickens to Avian Pox Virus (APV), which is naturally transmitted among birds by a mosquito vector.

“What we want to figure out is what’s going on between vectors, such as mosquitoes, and pathogens, such as avian pox virus, to see how they are working together, if at all, to infect the host,” Pasztor said. Prior to inoculating birds with APV, Pasztor exposed one group of chickens to blood-feeding mosquitoes for a two-week period and kept another group of chickens free from mosquito feeding. She then compared the levels of APV-antibodies between the two groups of birds.

“What we found was that the birds exposed to the mosquitoes had a lower pox-antibody response compared to those not exposed to mosquitoes,” she said. “That shows the mosquito is, in fact, affecting the birds’ ability to fight off APV.” Mosquitoes are known to have immunosuppressant compounds in their saliva, she added, which may suppress the immune system of the birds, making them more vulnerable to the virus.

“We know something is going on,” said Pásztor, who is minoring in microbiology. “If we can figure out what’s going on and how it’s happening, we may be able to create preventive methods to stop the spread of such viruses in animals and humans.” Pasztor was one of more than 30 students in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to receive an undergraduate research grant to conduct her work. Dr. Jeb Owen, assistant professor in entomology, was her mentor for the project.

Collecting Cortisol to Quantify Quality of Life

Janet Irons

A young child’s saliva may hold the secret to determining how, or whether family difficulties, such as parental depression or conflict, impacts his or her stress levels, according to a new research study by Washington State University student Janet Irons.

Irons, a junior from Sammamish majoring in human development, helped collect data that allows researchers to measure amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone in children ages 3-7. Cortisol is produced when individuals are exposed to psychological stress, especially stress that occurs in the context of interpersonal relationships. Cortisol is an important variable of interest, because it has been linked–among other things–to short and long term physical and mental health.

Working with 37 families of 3-7 year-old children, who were participants in the Family Life and Stress Study, Irons collected data on children’s cortisol levels through a salivary sampling method called “The Spitting Game.” She instructed parents to collect small samples of their children’s saliva, four times a day over a two day period. Parents also filled out comprehensive questionnaires, inquiring about their marital and emotional functioning, parenting, and their child’s personality and behavior.

Preliminary results show higher levels of cortisol in children rated by their parents as temperamentally difficult, in other words, as children who express more anger and frustration. Results also show that the quality of the family climate plays a role. Irons was one of more than 30 students in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to receive an undergraduate research grant to conduct her work. Patricia Pendry, assistant professor of human development, was her advisor for the project.