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University of Iowa News Release


May 12, 2009

Two schools receive student grants from Hygienic Laboratory

Students at Central Lee High School in Donnellson and at Knoxville Middle School in Knoxville are recipients of 2009 Student Grants from the University Hygienic Laboratory.

The Student Grant Program provides laboratory expertise and mentoring for junior high and high school students to help them complete science projects.

Olivia Rairden, a junior at Central Lee High School, (photo below) received a grant for her project that examines water systems for the presence of estrogen and other pharmaceuticals.

"Pharmaceuticals are beginning to become an issue with our water systems," Rairden said in her application. "The majority of people do not fully understand the effects they can have on the environment by simply washing something down the drain."

The Hygienic Laboratory's Terry Cain, chemist, and John Vargo, environmental program manager, are mentors for the testing, which is being conducted at the Iowa City laboratory.

A team of six students at Knoxville Middle School (photo below) is looking for the dirtiest and cleanest places in their school based on the presence and absence of bacteria and how it relates to traffic in those areas. The students also are examining how usage of areas in the school correlates with cleanliness, and they will evaluate the effectiveness of current cleaning methods.

"Our objective is to find out which areas of our school are the most and least clean," the Knoxville team said in their application. "We would also like to be part of devising a plan to provide a safe and clean learning environment for both ourselves and our classmates. Our results could provide support for the importance of our custodial staff during these times of budget cuts."

The students on the winning team from Knoxville are Ben Thomas, Rachel Morgan, Justin Karns, Brendan Finan, Jocelyn Beaver and Carrie Adrian.

Dawn Jackson, a public health microbiologist at the Hygienic Laboratory, will serve as the mentor for the testing, which will be conducted at the laboratory in Ankeny.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located on the UI's Research Park in Coralville, at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, and at Lakeside Laboratories in Milford. For more information about the laboratory and its programs and services visit

PHOTOS: High-resolution versions are available on request. Send a request to Pat Blake at

STORY SOURCE: University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,

Student grant recipient Olivia Rairden (left) with Karla Benninghoven, laboratory technician at University Hygienic Laboratory.

Knoxville Middle School students who won a University Hygienic Laboratory student grant are pictured with their principal and classroom teacher: (back row, left to right) Ben Thomas, Justin Karns, Brendan Finan and Brian McNeill (principal); (front, row left to right) Sara Finnegan (teacher), Rachel Morgan, Jocelyn Beaver and Carrie Adrian.