Dr. J.D. Gantz will lead on-campus research, select students for summer work in Purdue lab
CONWAY, Arkansas (February 1, 2023) – A three-year Environmental Protection Agency-funded research project will include not only Hendrix Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. J.D. Gantz, but also several Hendrix students who have an interest in scientific research that has implications for human health.
The project, which centers on the health risks that may result from exposure to chemical mixtures in the environment, will be led by researchers at Purdue University. Gantz has been tapped to participate in the project because of his expertise with researching stress physiology in midges and other species of insects.
The overarching goals of the grant are to examine how various PFAS chemicals bind to hemoglobin and what effects they have on hemoglobin’s ability to transport oxygen. Hendrix students will work with him to investigate the effects of PFAS exposure on insects while other project participants run similar tests on other animals or use computer models to predict the effects of PFAS at the molecular level.
“We expect that PFAS exposure will result in midge hemoglobin being worse at binding to oxygen, thus the midges will be under low oxygen stress, called hypoxia,” Gantz said. “I am excited to work with some really excellent scientists doing important research that has direct applications to human health and wellbeing.”
Gantz’s involvement with this grant creates opportunities for Hendrix students beyond his own on-campus lab. In addition to having students aid in the research he will conduct at Hendrix, he will choose a student each summer to travel to the Marisol Sepulveda Lab at Purdue to work on other aspects of the project, providing them with valuable experience in an R1 research setting.
“We may learn a lot about the way PFAS affects human health,” Gantz said. “We know that PFAS exposure is associated with negative health outcomes, but the mechanisms leading to those negative outcomes are poorly understood.”
About Hendrix College
A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.