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Jordyn Wolfand, E11

About the Summer Scholars Program

The Summer Scholars Program is a university-wide initiative that offers research apprenticeships with faculty and clinical mentors to motivated Tufts undergraduates. The program gives students a chance to be on the front line of discovery and scholarship at Tufts today. Each student receives a living stipend of $3,500 for full-time research that will ideally lead to a senior honors thesis. In addition, a $1,000 grant to defray research expenses is made available to each recipient up until the time of graduation.

About Her

As a Summer Scholar in the lab of Kurt Pennell, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, Jordyn Wolfand explored possible links between PCB exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Her senior thesis will focus on the way nanoparticles of a carbon configuration called C-60, increasingly used in industry, move through soil. Meantime, she is active in STOMP—a program that sends Tufts students to local elementary schools to teach youngsters about engineering—and is a coxswain on the women's crew team.

What She Brings

"Jordyn is very responsible and motivated, and best of all, she works well with others," says Professor Pennell. "The latter attribute is critical to a successful research experience in an active, multi-user lab."

About Her Tufts Experience

"It is believed certain chemical contaminants potentially are associated with the development of Parkinson's, a neurodegenerative disorder accompanied by tremors and shaking," says Wolfand. "As a Summer Scholar I looked at the possible effects of exposure to PCBs, chemical compounds once used in coolants and carbon copy paper, for example, which don't break down in the environment. We examined brain tissue from people with Parkinson's to check for elevated levels of PCBs. It was a great experience getting into the lab and learning the lab techniques.

"I am doing my senior thesis on the transport of a particular nanoparticle, called C-60 or fullerene, sometimes called a 'buckyball' [for its resemblance to the geodesic dome created by Buckminster Fuller]. The C-60 configuration of carbon has been found to have incredible properties, with uses in biopharmaceuticals, solar cells, and superconductors. However, little study has been made of how these carbon compounds, once manufactured and disposed of, move in the environment, or of any potential environmental contamination associated with them.

"Without my Summer Scholar experience I wouldn't have been able to start—or even do—my thesis."