On July 11, Anita Brinker (manager, Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health Nutritional Core Facility) presented to rising ninth-graders participating in the 4-H Summer Science Program. This five-day, on-campus program explored science and research to gain a better understanding of opportunities available in science, engineering, and technology. These urban youths, most of whom were enjoying their first 4-H experience, go on to become 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Ambassadors, sharing their experiences and knowledge with other young people in their communities through activities in their local 4-H offices.
Brinker gave a presentation to the students, explaining the IFNH’s mission and describing her work analyzing the EPA and DHA content of fish oil supplements. The students were then given a tour of the IFNH Core Facility lab. David Ribnicky (research associate, Plant Biology and Pathology) described the TIM system, a model of the human digestive system used for studying what happens to food or supplements during the digestive process. Brinker also showed the students the liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer used for lipidomics analyses.
The students used molecular models to build structures of α-linolenic acid then converted their structures to EPA or DHA, mimicking the conversion steps that take place in the liver. They were very impressed by what their livers can do! Students in the program described their experiences in several blog posts on the 4-H Summer Science Blog.