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SXU Bio Student Presents at Research Symposium


Saint Xavier University biology student Angela Bylina recently presented her research project, "Examining the Presence of Acrylamide in Small Animal Food," at SXU's 2024 EXPLORE STEM Research Symposium.  

Bylina, who also has a minor in chemistry, conducted her research for 16 weeks. Along with mentor chemistry professor Steven McComis, she worked to develop a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method to try to detect the presence of acrylamide in bird and guinea pig foods. They were successful in detecting the presence of the carcinogen and its concentrations.  

"Over the past 16 weeks, I have sifted through and read multiple journal articles to educate myself on the carcinogenic compound acrylamide, which forms under high-temperature food processing. There have been many studies done on the human diet and canine and feline diets, but our beloved small animals have been overlooked," said Bylina.  

Bylina is pleased with the outcome of her project and grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to conduct the research and work alongside a mentor.  

"Professor McComis provided me with the guidance and knowledge I needed to be successful throughout this research fellowship, and participating in this research has been incredibly valuable for my academic growth. This experience has broadened my understanding of scientific research methodologies and techniques beyond the scope of my usual coursework. This research opportunity has not only expanded my horizons but also equipped me with invaluable skills and perspectives that will undoubtedly shape my journey toward becoming a dentist," said Bylina.  

Bylina was drawn to biology because of her deep-rooted fascination with life and how it works.  

"Exploring the intricacies of living organisms, from the smallest cell to complex ecosystems, has captivated me for as long as I can remember. STEM subjects have always intrigued me because they offer a pathway to understanding the world around us in a systematic and logical way. From unraveling the mysteries of genetics to investigating the laws of physics governing the universe, STEM fields provide endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. For me, biology offers a gateway to unraveling the wonders of life itself, making it an inherently captivating and rewarding field of study," said Bylina.  

Bylina anticipates that she will thrive in dental school thanks to the academic and career preparation she is receiving from SXU.  

"The rigorous science courseload at SXU has been instrumental in preparing me for dental school and enhancing my time management skills. Juggling courses alongside extracurricular activities and a job has taught me valuable lessons in prioritization, organization and effective time management. My experience has honed my ability to balance academic commitments with personal and professional responsibilities, an essential skill for thriving in the demanding dental school environment and future dental practice. I've received a solid foundation to excel in dental school and beyond," said Bylina.  

On campus, Bylina is the president of both the Pre-Dental Society and the Polish Student Association. She also holds the position of secretary in the American Red Cross Club and is a member of Tri-Beta. She finds that her involvement not only enriches her college experience but also allows her to contribute to the community while further developing leadership and teamwork skills.  

One of her favorite parts of her SXU experience was traveling to Yellowstone National Park.   

"As someone deeply passionate about nature and wildlife, this trip was a dream come true for me. Exploring the breathtaking landscapes, encountering diverse wildlife, and immersing myself in the beauty of the natural world left an indelible mark on me. It's a memory I will cherish forever, and it reinforced my love for the environment," said Bylina.  

In July, Bylina will start dental school and is incredibly excited to embark on a new chapter in her life and pursue her dream of becoming a dentist. She looks forward to providing quality care to patients and making a positive impact in their lives.  

This research program was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (No. 1832511).