Benjamin Schott, a junior with a double major in biochemistry and molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, is spending his summer investigating the effects of nutritional programming in yellow perch juveniles. Benjamin is a recipient of a 2015 Ohio State Undergraduate Research Office (URO) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
Advised by School of Environment and Natural Resources Professor Konrad Dabrowski and Department of Food Science and Technology PhD student, Megan Kemski, the team is studying yellow perch to culture the fish more effectively using soy-based protein diets.
Currently, most fish producers use animal-based protein feeds in their formulations to grow their fish. Animal based protein is much more expensive than soy-based protein. Finding a way to raise yellow perch using soy would help the aquaculture industry overcome major obstacles in both cost and sustainability. The project could potentially change the way fish are raised commercially; providing safe, healthy fish to meet the ever-increasing demand in a cost-effective and responsible manner, Schott shared.
Schott’s summer research builds on PhD student Megan Kemski’s project where she programmed adult fish to specific diets. Nutritional programming is a method where an individual is fed a certain diet at a young age, and then if you take away the diet and reintroduce it later; the individual is able to utilize the food more effectively than an individual not programmed to that diet. The team is studying the offspring from that experiment to see if this effect of nutritional programming can be seen across generations – to learn is the programming heritable?
“My favorite part of the project is its potential to make a significant real-world impact. The novelty of the research really excites me,” Schott said. “In the future, I hope to pursue research projects that have the potential to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
The URO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship is a 10-week paid intensive research experience, which seeks to provide highly motivated students in any field of study with the opportunity to carry out an independent research project with an Ohio State University faculty member.