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Biochemistry major presents at 4th Annual National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Symposium in Arlington, Va.
Jenna Strubhar, a senior biochemistry major at Misericordia University, was selected to present the research she conducted during a summer fellowship at University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) at the 4th Annual National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Symposium that was held by the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) on Oct. 26-27 in Arlington, Va.

A graduate of Minersville Area High School, the Tremont, Pa., resident was one of 10 students who participated in an undergraduate research fellowship sponsored by the National Science Foundation at UTK during June and July 2014. The research group included students from universities across the country, including Clemson University, University of Wisconsin, Drury University and the University of Maryland.

At the completion of the program, Strubhar was chosen from among the 10 researchers to represent the group and present her work at the CUR symposium.

During her fellowship, Strubhar’s research was carried out in the lab of Nitin Jain, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology at UTK. They collaborated on research to investigate the thermostability of the Cytochrome 450 enzyme, CYP119, and what makes this enzyme more stable than others. Thermostable P450s are of great interest to the chemical and biopharmaceutical industries because of their ability to catalyze chemical reactions at high temperatures that are required in industrial settings to prevent contamination. Only a few enzymes have been characterized as being thermostable, which makes it necessary to understand the basis of their thermostability in order to gain information that will aid in the bioengineering of non-thermophilic enzymes into enzymes more suitable for industrial- reaction conditions.

Her research is detailed in the presentation, “NMR Investigation of Redox-Dependence of Dynamics in the Thermophilic P450, CYP119.”

Strubhar is the daughter of John and Cheryl Strubhar. She is currently conducting research with Nicola Edwards, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemistry at Misericordia University, in an attempt to synthesize a cage-like molecule that will form the basis of a pattern-based anion detection kit. This kit will serve as an easy and effective way of detecting anions (negatively charged ions) in local waterways, which often originate from sources such as agricultural fertilizers and fracking wastewater.

Strubhar will graduate from Misericordia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and a minor in mathematics in May 2015. While a student, she served as an officer of the Dead Alchemist Society, and is an active member of the tri-Beta Biological Honor Society and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, she tutors her peers in a variety of subjects including calculus, general chemistry and biochemistry. She also tutors local high school students in pre-algebra and algebra.

Her future plans include a return trip to UTK to complete additional research and to publish a paper on her results. She expects to attend graduate school in the field of biochemistry. She hopes to continue to investigate the structural aspects of enzymes involved in pharmaceutical metabolism in an attempt to better predict harmful drug by-products formed during metabolism before new drugs reach clinical trials. She also hopes to someday teach at a college or university the size of Misericordia so she can have intimate classes that permit one-on-one research opportunities with students.

For more information about Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or log on to Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 34 degree programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. Misericordia University ranks in the top tier of the Best Regional Universities – North category of U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 edition of Best Colleges and was designated a 2015 Best Northeastern College by the Princeton Review.


Tremont native Jenna Strubhar, a senior biochemistry major at Misericordia University, has been selected to present biochemistry research at the 4th Annual National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Symposium to be held in Arlington, Va.