Category Archives: Environmental and Molecular Toxicology

A Big Punch at the Smallest Scale

How do you connect the dots between sunscreen, coatings on reading glasses, and medicine? Nanoparticles! More and more the potential uses of nanotechnology are moving forward. For example the use of nanoparticles in sunscreen (i.e. zinc dioxide) helps to increase its protective coverage time and its ability to block harmful UVA rays. Another emerging field of nanotechnology hopes to decrease the economic burdens of growing enough food for a booming world population. Matt Slattery joins us from the College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology to discuss his flourishing endeavor to ensure that technology does not outpace environmental safety.

Matt reflecting at Panther Creek Falls

Matt reflecting at Panther Creek Falls.

Growing food takes a serious amount of commitment, time, and money; and one of the major factors dictating a successful harvest is the timing and effectiveness of the pesticides applied to a crop. Over a billion (1,000,000,000) lbs of the active ingredient in pesticides are applied in the USA alone (EPA)! With the help of nanotechnology we can decrease the necessity of repeated pesticide application and still get the same level of productivity from the land. When pesticides are applied, they generally have a very short residence time, and are only effective in fighting pests for a week or two. However, by encapsulating pesticides in multi-layered nanoparticles that slowly releases a small quantity of pesticide over time, you can get a far more consistent application instead of the boom-and-bust strategy that’s currently used. Another major benefit of nanoparticle delivered pesticides is that farm workers are less exposed to the chemicals because application of the pesticide is less frequent and safer. This encapsulation method is not just for an agricultural application but has the potential to be used in any platform that needs a “time-release” delivery, but much work is still required to make sure we really understand how they interact with the environment.

Matt having a grand time play his ukulele in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Matt having a grand time playing his ukulele in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

To no surprise, it takes someone special to merge multiple scientific disciplines into one research project, and our guest fits the bill! Matt has always been interested in science, but it was the interdisciplinary nature of environmental toxicology that requires the understanding of how chemistry, physics, and the environment can affect the biology and health of an organism. His first experience with the contamination of the Puget Sound in Bellingham, while attending Western Washington University, was a catalyst that launched him to eventually work with the Lummi Tribe. There he joined the discussion of how salmon as a major source of food, as well as their cultural foundation, could be damaged by bioaccumulation from the contaminated estuary. This intersection of science and outreach convinced Matt he wanted to pursue a higher degree, but he decided to go abroad for a short time before putting his nose to the grindstone!

You’ll have to tune in to hear where Matt’s explorations led him, and how nano-technology is becoming an increasing popular method for chemical delivery across scientific disciplines and industries. You can listen on October 16th 2016 at 7PM on the radio at 88.7FM KBVR, or stream live.

Orange you glad you have scientists?

Although many students know the Linus Pauling building, few know of the ridicule he faced towards the end of his career for pursing the effects of high dose Vitamin C on the human body and its implications for cancer treatment. Fast-forward a few decades and the tune has changed in scientists around the world as we begin uncovering the mechanisms of how Vitamin C influences cancer cell propagation. One of these projects is led by our guest this week Matt Kaiser who began this research project as an undergraduate which has helped make sense of why these pharmacological dosing levels of Vitamin C aid in targeting tumor cells while simultaneously allow the functioning of normal cells to remain uninhibited.

OSU 2015 Commencement Address
Matt has already presented at a professional conference in Boston, was an invited speaker at OSU’s TEDx event in 2015, helped start a philanthropy to donate money to OHSU, and pursued a six-month internship with one of the largest medical institutions in the country.. and he’s not done yet!

Currently Matt is working under Nancy Kerkvliet in the department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology on a new project that can have breakthrough immunotherapy applications to help treat individuals with autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

You can see some of Matt’s photography work that helped contribute to Phil Knight’s Cancer Challenge by finding him on Instagram @backyard_oregon or on his website.

2015 TEDxOregonStateU

 

Join us Sunday, January 10th at 7PM to hear more about Matt’s research and his astonishing undergraduate career that has launched him to fame on the TED stage. Tune in to KBVR Corvallis 88.7FM or stream the show live!