BETHANY, W.Va. – More than a dozen Bethany College undergraduates received research awards through the college’s partnership with the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

  • Whitney Abbott, a chemistry major from Weirton, W.Va., is examining the effectiveness of alkaline hydrolysis on protein denaturation and potential uses in science. Dr. Lisa M. Reilly, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Physical and Computational Sciences, is advising Abbott’s work.
  • Haley Bensinger, a biology major from Fredericksburg, Va., is researching the effects of environmental factors on virus stability. Dr. Karen Kormuth, assistant professor of biology, is Bensinger’s adviser.
  • Crystal Ford, a biology major from Toronto, Ohio, is studying the survival and stability of infectious viruses when exposed to different temperatures. Kormuth is Ford’s adviser.
  • Geoffrey Foster, a mathematics and religious studies major from Kalispell, Mont., titled his project “Searching for Perfection.” Dr. Prem Prasain, assistant professor of mathematics, is advising Foster’s work.
  • Kathleen Fuchs, a biology major from Roanoke, Va., is studying the cultivation of Phi6 and MS2 bacteriophage for insight into treatment against multidrug-resistant respiratory bacterial infections. Kormuth is Fuchs’ adviser.
  • Nataley Kemmer, a biology and chemistry major from Canfield, Ohio, is analyzing biodiesel from multiple plants. Reilly is Kemmer’s adviser.
  • Ian Nelson, an environmental science major from Monongahela, Pa., is studying the quantification and identification of microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Scott Brothers, associate professor of chemistry, is advising Nelson’s work.
  • Elizabeth Poletis, a chemistry major from La Plata, Md., is conducting an analysis of natural products. Reilly is advising Poletis’ work.
  • Amanda Reynolds, a chemistry and mathematics major from Sistersville, W.Va., is investigating the ideal acid source and kinetic parameters of emeraldine salt synthesis. Adam C. Fletcher, professor of mathematics, is her adviser.
  • Makayla Reynolds, a mathematics and pre-engineering/physical science major from Buckhannon, W.Va., is studying STEM challenges for kids. Fletcher is her adviser.
  • John Rogers, a chemistry major from Alton, Ill., is researching the pharmaceuticals application of high-performance liquid chromatography. Reilly is his adviser.
  • Jacob Thornburg, a computer science and mathematics major from Bellaire, Ohio, is determining the ideal form to perform a high bar barbell squat. Fletcher is Thornburg’s adviser.
  • Hailee Vizyak, a chemistry major from Wellsburg, W.Va., is conducting microcrystalline drug analysis by methods of microscopy and digital imaging techniques. Reilly is her adviser.

The West Virginia Space Grant Consortium is a NASA-sponsored organization that comprises 12 West Virginia academic institutions and nine corporate and scientific partners. Established in 1991, the consortium is dedicated to building infrastructure for research and promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education across the state.

The consortium awards require a dollar-for-dollar match from other non-federal sources.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.