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College of Human Ecology

Nebraska student conducts research on dietary fats

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

MANHATTAN -- A Lincoln, Neb., student spent the summer conducting food science and nutrition research as part of a summer undergraduate research program at Kansas State University.

Kelly Kurtzer, daughter of Greg and Shelley Kurtzer, is a senior studying chemistry at Concordia University in Seward.

She is one of 14 students selected for the nine-week long K-State program. Students from universities around the nation apply to attend the annual research program, now in its 11th year. The Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, sponsored by the K-State Graduate School, is designed to immerse the participants in a rigorous research environment in their field of study.

Kurtzer studied with a mentor, Denis Medeiros, professor and head of the department of human nutrition. The project was called "phospholipid fatty acids analysis of liver and heart from rats fed beef from cattle raised on flax."

"The question we asked was, does a diet that's high in beef from flax-fed cattle result in a more favorable cell membrane fatty acid profile in liver and heart," she said. Her project focused on two diets: a flaxseed diet, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and a corn-rich diet, which is high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

"Our objective was to see whether flax in the diet has any physiological effect," she said. The results are still being analyzed.

"The summer research program definitely met my expectations," she said. "I applied for the summer program in hopes of getting more experience in the laboratory and to see if research work is something I would want to go into as a future career. I have learned a lot this summer and have discovered many things that I really like to do and things that I did not enjoy."

Kurtzer, a 2002 graduate of Lincoln East High School, hopes to attend graduate school for advanced studies in food chemistry.

This article was posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2005, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.