Chemistry and Biology Students to Benefit from Incubator Donation at Mansfield

Mansfield, PA  — Commonwealth University – Mansfield recently received a donation of four incubators from Corning Incorporated. The incubators were distributed between two labs with Drs. Maegen Borzok, Kristen Long, and Elaine Farkas.

With Dr. Borzok, two of the incubators will be used by students in a biochemistry course to introduce them to foundational biochemistry and molecular biology techniques.

enior chemistry majors Caitlin Irwin and Micah Yoder prepare to use the incubator.

“With these incubators, students will be able to explore maintaining mammalian cell lines and isolating macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins from cell lines,” explained Dr. Borzok. “This will couple with students being introduced to nucleotide manipulation and protein analysis techniques.”

“On behalf of Mansfield’s biochemistry students, we are grateful to Corning Incorporated for this generous donation,” said Bashar W. Hanna, president of Commonwealth University. “These incubators will enable our faculty to continue their great work with our students and inspire them to further their knowledge in STEM disciplines.”

Borzok will also use the incubators in the STEM/Research outreach program for high school students, helping to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Additionally, the incubator will support Dr. Borzok and her research students in the study of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, an inherited disease that results in structural rearrangement of heart tissue, and abnormal electrical signaling in the heart.

“Often times, this fatal disease presents itself as sudden cardiac death,” explained Borzok. “Our lab studies the glue that holds the heart together and the defects in these connections that appear in disease. The donated incubators will allow us to grow heart cells in a dish to assess the strength of these cellular connections.”

In the lab of Drs. Long and Farkas, the incubators will be used in a shared space to grow cells and tissues to grow cells for faculty-student independent research, increase collaborative research, and enhance collaborative research space. Long and Farkas, along with their student researchers will grow cells and tissues for their ongoing research into the health effects of microplastic consumption in mammals. They are some of the first researchers in the country to study this topic. Dr. Long teaches Tissue Culture courses at Mansfield, and as part of the ongoing collaboration, some of her students have cultured mouse bone marrow derived cells to investigate the effects of microplastics on immune cell activation and differentiation. However, with a full class every semester needing access to laminar flow hoods and incubators, the research space is limited.   

“Our individual research spaces are limited,” said Farkas, “So we sought to transform a room into a lab where both biology and chemistry students can perform independent research and house our various instruments, including the incubators.”