Honors Biology presents research findings


Courtesy of Ashley Chassard

Honors Research and Application Methods Class 2018

Beth Ellis, Staff Writer

Does estrogen prevent the onset of Parkinson’s disease? This is what Menchville parents and administrators gathered in the auditorium on May 23rd to find out. Ashley Chassard’s Honors Research and Application Methods class had been working tirelessly all semester to answer this question, and they were ready to share what they had learned. Their presentation included a video, made by Shane McFadden, and a Question and Answer session afterwards.

During the presentation, the audience learned that Parkinson’s disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S., mainly affecting men. Recent research caused the students to question if estrogen could cure or prevent the disease, so they decided to test their theory. Using approximately 958 zebrafish larvae, the students observed the development of the zebrafish over time in different test solutions and watching for any TRAP (Tremors, Rigidity, Akinesia and bradykinesia, Postural instability) symptoms that would indicate whether or not the zebrafish had developed Parkinson’s disease.

Courtesy of Ashley Chassard
Zebra Fish control groups

After doing four trials, the students concluded that estrogen can be used as a preventative measure, but not as a curative measure for Parkinson’s disease. In order to then show validity of data and likelihood of the results being by chance, the students performed two statistical tests, the Uni-squared test, and the 2 prop 2 test. The results showed that there was very little chance of the data being by chance, proving that it was accurate. If the class were to conduct the experiment again, they would increase the zebrafish observation time to guarantee that the results were the same both times.

In conclusion, the students stated that the class benefited them in multiple ways. It gave them experience that is good for college classes and taught them how to conduct authentic research, allowed them to work as a team on a large project, and showed them how to adapt to problems. Mario Jones concluded the program by thanking the Newport News Education Foundation and Toshiba American Foundation for their financial contribution, and Chassard for making it possible. Students in the class recommend it to anyone interested in science and biology because it is enjoyable, and it provides an experience that they normally would not have the opportunity to get in high school.

Courtesy of Ashley Chassard
Karan Singh, Ashley Chassard and Devin Singh pose at the end of the presentation.