ANS graduate student wins award for research on organophosphates

Nov 11, 2022 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Partnerships, Research, Students

Jacob Mitcham, a graduate student in Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology, recently presented research on organophosphates at the annual American Society of Microbiology (ASM) meeting for the south central branch.

Through the talk on organophosphate research, Mitcham was presented with the R.J. Strawinski Memorial Research Award.

Organophosphates are a group of human-made chemicals that poison insects and mammals, often used in agriculture practices. Organophosphate poisoning can occur after short or long-term exposure and can cause nerve damage and disrupt hormone production in humans and animals.

“This research on organophosphate pesticides can make a global impact by lessening or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals as insect and animal control,” Mitcham said. “I pursued this research to help communities and countries who have not banned the use of these harmful pesticides to understand the long-term damages these pesticides have on the environment and personal health.”

Dr. Terri Maness, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Environmental Science Program Coordinator, is the principal investigator on the research. Maness provided Mitcham with the opportunity to work in her lab after graduating with his undergraduate degree in Biology as a graduate research assistant.

“We’ve found microbes that have the potential to help us clean up sites contaminated with pesticides,” Maness said. “Jacob has worked diligently on this project and I’m thrilled that his efforts were recognized with this award that acknowledges the importance of Jacob’s research.”

Maness encouraged Mitcham to present his research at the annual ASM meeting and make connections with other researchers in the field. The ASM meeting was the first professional meeting or conference for Mitcham to present and attend.

“It was a surreal experience that I owe to Dr. Maness,” Mitcham said. “I had no idea I would win an award for my talk on my research and I am so thankful that my opportunity to work in a lab during my time at Louisiana Tech provided me with this experience.”

The R.J. Strawinski Memorial Research Award recognizes outstanding graduate student presentations. Judges are not obligated to present this award at each competition in order to maintain high standards.