Student Spotlight - Cassie Nix

Cassie has been actively involved in undergraduate research since her sophomore year.  For her continuing work on a project examining the toxicity of Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Cassie recently received a $350 research grant from the Tri-Beta National Biological Honors Society. Jimsonweed is a highly poisonous invasive plant in Ohio that can become incorporated into hay and other livestock feed as well as compost piles. This plant contains very potent toxins that could potentially be concentrated enough to poison livestock, pets or anyone handling contaminated compost.  Jimsonweed’s range is expanding, and Cassie’s research will help determine how concerned farmers and homeowners should be. “Cassie is growing these plants in the greenhouse and developing new ways to extract and analyze the toxins they contain.”

As a junior, Cassie was one of two AU science majors to be awarded a $5,000 renewable scholarship from the American Chemical Society Scholars Program.  This award is granted to students who are pursuing a career in chemistry or chemistry-related fields such as environmental science and/or toxicology.  In Summer 2013, Cassie expanded her professional experience in Washington State as a paid research intern with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, part of the Homeland Security-related Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HS-STEM) Summer Internship Program.  Her assignment was with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, working on a project entitled "Improving Emergency Preparedness for Incidents Involving Airborne Release of Hazardous Chemicals".  Cassie also recently found out that she has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship for students in environmental science and environmental engineering from the Ohio Academy of Science and Ohio EPA.