Special to the Collegian

Lorain County Community College’s innovative hard-working students aren’t just completing advanced science research as part of their coursework—three students’ independent research was published in the April issue of The Ohio Journal of Science.

LCCC science instructors including chemistry professor Regan Silvestri, Ph.D., and microbiology professor Harry Kestler, Ph.D., direct student research groups and research projects with individual students who completed the high-level research that was featured in the journal. 

Paul Warkentien was recognized for his research on thermal management properties of 3D printed multi materials for aerospace applications. Warkentien began conducting independent research with Silvestri in 2018 thanks to grants that Silvestri had secured from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Langley, Virginia. Warkentien then seized an opportunity to continue researching on the topic of additive manufacturing at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, during his second internship, thanks to funding from the Ohio Space Grant Consortium.

The LaGrange resident, 20, is working toward his bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering, with plans to transfer to Cleveland State University in the fall. “I was so proud of myself and so happy to know that I was able to make a mark in the scientific community,” he said. 

“I wanted to test the thermal properties of these materials because, due to the sheer amount of these materials that are continually being added to the market, thermal data for many of the materials is scarce, especially when it comes to using multiple materials in the same structure,” Warkentien said. “The other reason I chose thermal data is because it built upon the skills I learned earlier on in my original internship with LCCC and NASA.”

Warkentien also presented his research at the national American Ceramics Society conference in Daytona Beach, Florida on January 27. He said he “would like to thank Laura Stacko, Jay Singh and Regan Silvestri because without their guidance and support none of this would have been possible.”

“We’re extremely proud of the successes of all three of these students, Andrea, Sara and Paul,” Silvestri said. “Their publications in the Ohio Journal of Science all seemed to come together naturally from the research they were doing, thanks to scholarships that all three of the students received from the NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium.”

Another one of Silvestri’s students, Vermilion’s Andrea Zirkle, explored how the flavor profile of apple moonshine changes through a double distillation process. “I am so grateful to have the great support system of Dr. Silvestri and our research group,” she said. Zirkle felt “humbled and grateful for the opportunity” to have the chemistry research she completed also appear in the publication.

Zirkle                Submitted Photo

The 41-year-old universal science major recently received the prestigious Ohio Academy of Science Undergraduate Research award for her work. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bowling Green State University through the University Partnership with LCCC.   

“The research basically demonstrated how when the apple moonshine was distilled for purity, the double distillation process unfortunately removed all of the good fruit essence that was important to the moonshine’s flavor profile,” Zirkle said. 

Biology major Sara Martin, whose research was also published this month, performed HIV research with instructor Harry Kestler, Ph.D.’s research group that studies mutations and methods used for creating a vaccine for HIV.

“We’re looking at a mutation present in a child who was exposed to HIV but didn’t contract the virus,” Martin said. “We’re trying to essentially glue pieces of DNA together so that we can put this mutation into other cells, expose those cells to HIV, and see if this mutation was the reason why this child was resistant to HIV.”

The 21-year-old Sheffield Village resident is on track to graduate next spring with her bachelor’s in biology from Bowling Green State University through the University Partnership with LCCC. She said joining Dr. Kestler’s research group was one of the best decisions she has made while earning her degree.

“It’s pretty neat to be a part of a project as big as this one,” Martin said. “This research group started years ago and it’s cool to be able to be able to build on the work of countless students before me. It’s also really awesome to be able to teach the new students who come in how to work in a lab and what our project is all about. That’s one of my favorite parts of the lab.” 

Lorain County Community College is located at 1005 North Abbe Road, Elyria, Ohio. 

For more information on summer classes, visit www.lorainccc.edu/summerfall20