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June 11, 2007
McElroy Grants Received for Student/Faculty Research


The R. J. McElroy Trust has awarded two grants to support undergraduate research in the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Dubuque. Caroline Zelent C'08 (Merrill, WI) and Dr. Rasika Mudalige-Jayawickrama, assistant professor of biology, will study the molecular regulation of flower color in orchids; and Bethany Bohnsack C'08 (Elizabeth, IL), Jeremy Meyer C'08 (Salisburg, MO), and Phylicia Schwartz C'08 (New Vienna, IA) will work with Dr. Gerald Zuercher, associate professor of biology and environmental science, to assess turtle populations in the Mississippi River.

Dr. Mudalige-Jayawickrama and Caroline Zelent will isolate and characterize the Myb-type flavonoid regulatory genes from orchids. This research will provide insights into manipulation of flower color in ornamentals and modulation of flavonoids in other food/beverage crops. From a plant perspective, colors provide a method of survival to attract pollinators and produce fruits and seed to start the next generation. From a human perspective, these chemicals provide potential health benefits for protection from cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Zuercher and his team will seek to evaluate river turtle community ecology, population ecology, and morphometric (measurements of shape/body proportion) variation along the Mississippi River within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Data collected on this project will allow comparisons between and within capture sites - addressing latitudinal spatial patterns and temporal patterns as well as differences between habitat types. Overall community structure and population estimates for species with adequate captures will be compared between sites and between months.

Each year, the Iowa College Foundation works with the R.J. McElroy Trust and the Maytag Corporation to provide awards designed to encourage undergraduate research experiences in student/faculty teams.

The R.J. McElroy Trust was founded in 1965 and is located in Waterloo, Iowa. The benefactor was R.J. McElroy, a pioneer Iowa broadcaster. In 1947, McElroy founded the Black Hawk Broadcasting Company and put radio station KWWL on the air. That was followed by KWWL TV and several other radio and television stations. McElroy died in 1965 and made provision in his will for the establishment of a trust fund, the proceeds of which are to be used for the educational benefit of deserving young people.

Since then, the Trust has funded a broad range of educational programs - including scholarships, fellowships, internships, student loan funds and numerous other projects to benefit youth of all ages. Literally thousands of young people in northeastern Iowa thank R.J. McElroy for the influence he has had in their lives. His strong commitment to youth and education has extended far beyond his lifetime to the enormous benefit of many, many young people. To see that this vision is continued for years to come is the responsibility of the R.J. McElroy Board of Trustees.