Released: May 5, 1999
Prospect resident completes research project
DANVILLE, KY -- Prospect resident John Ballert is one of seven Centre College students honored this year in the John C. Young Scholars program. The program provides a stipend for outstanding senior to collaborate with a Centre professor in advanced research. All of the scholars will present their results in a campus symposium set for May 15.
Ballert is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at Centre, and he has collaborated this year with Dr. Stephanie Dew, assistant professor of biology. They have investigated the visual cycle in certain types of fish, looking at the interaction between vitamin A and an enzyme known as LRAT.
As Ballert explains: "Vitamin A is an essential nutrient throughout the body and plays a particular role in vision. Vision is an active process, with the eye detecting and responding to light over and over again. That is possible by a sort of recycling process -- the vitamin A detects light and sets off a reaction in the brain, then this enzyme retriggers the vitamin so it can detect light again."
For their research, Ballert and Dew focused on one step in the regeneration cycle. They have tried to characterize or describe the enzyme and identify particular amino acids that are present.
Ballert has been an honor student, consistently making the dean's list, and he was honored with the Analytical Chemistry Award. Ballert had previously pursued research with Centre Professor Jennifer Muzyka in an investigation of electrochemical reactions used to produce carbon bonds. During the summer of 1998, he was accepted for a research team at the University of Louisville. He has been granted admission to the medical school at U of L.
Ballert is a graduate of Ballard High School and the son of Bruce and Miriam Ballert of Prospect.
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