Pullen Named Cox Distinguished Professor in Science at WWU
|8/14/2013||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
Dr. Nicholas Pullen, assistant professor of biology at William Woods University, will serve as the Cox Distinguished Professor in Science for the upcoming academic year. Pullen’s research will compare the effects of nitric oxide (NO) upon different kinds of cancer cells.
The Clark and Mildred Cox Distinguished Professor in Science position was established by the Clark Cox Trust in 2008, and Dr. Mary Spratt, professor of biology, held the position until her retirement last year.
“William Woods University is committed to offering an excellent science program to support the needs of our students,” Dr. Sherry McCarthy, vice president and academic dean, said. “This endowment continues to help us toward attaining that goal and offering another research opportunity for our undergraduate students.”
The appointment must involve a specific research activity involving students in a mentor-mentee relationship. Amanda Marty of Arnold, Mo., a senior double majoring in biology and equestrian science, has been selected as this year’s Cox Scholar to assist Pullen. Together they will study the effects of nitric oxide (NO) upon different kinds of cancer cells.
“Nitric oxide is a small molecule free radical, essentially meaning that it can move easily and is very reactive,” Pullen said. “When produced in very high quantities, NO elicits deleterious effects, including DNA mutations/damage and cellular death, yet low NO concentrations might assist a cell. It’s a double whammy; NO can be a good thing or a bad thing.”
While his past NO studies have examined brain cancers, Pullen’s upcoming research will look at other types of cancer, such as B-Cell Lymphoma.
“Then we will proceed in identifying overlapping factors that NO might be impinging upon to assist cancer growth – ultimately knowledge in such factors can help in identifying targets for more precisely and effectively treating certain cancers,” he said.
Funding up to $6,000 per year is available to support equipment, supplies and materials associated with the research, as well as travel and expenses, and technical, clinical and laboratory consultations that may be required. A stipend of $500 will also be awarded to the student assistant each semester.
The Cox Distinguished Professor appointment is expected to yield a specific tangible outcome upon conclusion. This outcome might be a scholarly or professional publication, a presentation at a scholarly meeting or professional conference, a book or a monograph.
Before joining the WWU faculty in the fall of 2012, Pullen was a fellow in a National Institutes of Health-funded IRACDA program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Va. IRACDA (Institutional Research and Academic Center Development Award) is a national teaching and research grant program partnering research universities with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Pullen taught biology and biochemistry at VCU and chemistry at Elizabeth City State University, as part of his fellowship. He is also a participant fellow in the National Science Foundation funded Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST-IV), and he received the AAAS/Science Program Award for Excellence in Science.
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., in 2005, Pullen went on to earn a Ph.D. in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology from VCU in 2010.
He has published and continues scientific research in two areas: mast cell biology (crucial players in allergy and asthma), and cancers of the central nervous system; most recently his activities have included education research related to undergraduate science education.
Nicholas Pullen explains the anatomy of an “ice cream headache” to Kelly M. Abernathy (left) and Katherine E. Bilsky while discussing various palatine nerves.