Zanna Leciejewski receives top honors at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum
Each year hundreds of Ohio State undergraduates present their research findings at the Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. The 2021 virtual forum was no exception, with over 180 students presenting in 21 categories, ranging from Medical Technology and Informatics to Social Justice and Activism.
Taking this year's top prize in the Environment and Climate Sciences category, was Zanna Leciejewski, a senior environmental engineering major in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering. Ms. Leciejewski's presentation, Comparison of Microcystin-LR Degradation by UV222 and UV254 via ELISA, UPLC-PDA, and LC-HRMS focused on comparing the degradation of microcystin-LR (MC-LR), a toxin, by two different ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths, at 254 nm (a wavelength currently used for water treatment and disinfection) and 222 nm (a novel treatment wavelength that shows the ability to degrade viruses and proteins).
MC-LR is a just one type of toxin that can be produced by the cyanobacteria that comprise harmful algal blooms (HABs), including the ones found in Lake Erie. Noting that chronic exposure to this toxin can cause liver damage, tumor production, or cancer, Leciejewski emphasized the importance of this research. "Finding effective treatment methods for the toxins produced by HABs is necessary to protect the public health of water consumers in Ohio and around the world." she stated.
The Hudson, Ohio native began participating in research during the summer after her second year on campus. She relished the opportunity to work with CEGE assistant professor Natalie Hull to enhance her individual engineering skills while making a contribution to research that could benefit society. "Dr. Hull has been an amazing advisor to me because she allows me independence in my work, and pushes me to better my understanding and skills in the lab," Zanna said. "I have had a fantastic experience as an undergraduate researcher at Ohio State."
After she receives her degree in May, Zanna will relocate to Detroit, Michigan, where she will serve as an assistant engineer at Hazan and Sawyer. She will take with her the experiences gained by attending Ohio State events like the Denman and participating in leadership and community service scholar programs like the Mount Leadership Society. "Ohio State has provided me with unforgettable memories and experiences," she said.