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Press Releases

Friday, January 17, 2014

SU Professors Earn $48K NSF Grant for Major Research Instrument

Drs. Les Erickson and Patti EricksonSALISBURY, MD---Thanks to a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Salisbury University students and faculty have a new tool to measure light intensity in their research on worms, plants, fish, and other subjects.

Dr. Patti Erickson of SU’s Biological Sciences Department, in partnership with Dr. Les Erickson, who also teaches in the department, received a $48,915 major research instrumentation award from NSF to purchase a multi-mode plate reader.

The machine rapidly measures the intensity of light absorbed or emitted by samples. Erickson said its “potential uses are extensive due to its high capacity, speed, sensitivity and versatility."

Personally, the tool will assist her studies of the effects of oxidative stress in nematode worms that have been genetically modified to express fluorescent proteins. Collaboratively, it also will be used by Dr. Joseph Pitula at University of Maryland Eastern Shore and others at SU.

Les Erickson sees benefits to his study of enzyme activity in a flowering plant, while SU chemistry professor Alison Dewald can better explore enzymes whose structures, but not functions, are known. Dr. Eugene Williams of Biological Sciences will use it to continue exploring the impacts of rapid temperature fluctuations on the metabolic processes and cell membrane structure of arctic charr fish.

“In addition to enhancing the research productivity of faculty, the reader will allow us to better train our students who are becoming the next generation of scientists,” Patti Erickson said. Undergraduate and graduate students will use it to collect and analyze data.

“It’s a flexible, low maintenance, programmable instrument that will facilitate a wide range of analyses that are beyond our existing technology and capacities,” she added. “We expect it to inspire future faculty and student research in the areas of cell and molecular biology, physiology and biochemistry once its capabilities are realized.”

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at

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