Redefining the Classroom

Honors biology student gets best project prize for Sault Naturalists club

Posted: May 15th, 2009

CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2314; Leslie Askwith, e-mail, 635-2314.

BEST RESEARCH PROJECT – John Lehman, left, and Leslie Askwith, both with the Sault Naturalists Club, present a $100 check to Lake Superior State University student Peter N. Bonneau, a graduating senior in biology from Canton, Mich. Bonneau's research project has developed a way to detect and measure an enzyme associated with a devastating fish disease. (Photo by Sean O'Mara)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A naturalists club with membership from Michigan and Ontario has given its annual research merit cash award to Lake Superior State University student Peter N. Bonneau, a graduating senior in biology from Canton, Mich. He received a $100 check from Sault Naturalists Club representatives Leslie Askwith and John Lehman for his senior research project to detect and measure an enzyme associated with a devastating fish disease.

Bonneau used an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (ELISA) procedure to both detect and quantify the presence of an enzyme linked to Early Mortality Syndrome in fish. Fisheries scientists can now use it as a tool to quantify the likelihood of EMS in an ecosystem or hatchery. His work to detect the enzyme was his required senior-level thesis, while the analytical method that measures its concentration fulfilled the thesis portion of his participation in LSSU's Honors program.

"The Honors program offered me an opportunity to study subjects I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to study," said Bonneau. "Like most competitive pre-med students, I found interest in a myriad of topics outside of my primary fields of biology and chemistry. The honors program allowed me the excuse to study a diversity of material, gain a broader perspective of human existence, and ultimately be a better-rounded individual."

Honors students must graduate with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and complete 21 Honors credits, including a senior-year honors thesis reviewed and approved by a council of five faculty members and at least three students.

Bonneau was also a Hart Scholar during his years at Lake State. The scholarship is named for the late Philip A. Hart, who served Michigan in the U.S. Senate between 1958 and 1976. Hart earned the title of "conscience of the Senate" from colleagues due to the way he conducted politics. Since inception in 1977, more than 130 Hart scholarships have been awarded to LSSU students who have gone on to become doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses, and executives in the world of business.

Bonneau plans to enter medical school this fall at Wayne State University through the U.S. Air Force Health Professions scholarship program. After his residency he will practice as a family physician in the Air Force.

The Sault Naturalists presents a $100 award annually to a Lake Superior State University student for an outstanding research project that extends scientific knowledge of the natural world and may help to maintain a healthy environment.

The Sault Naturalists Club is active in environmental advocacy, stewardship, and education. It has participated in the planning process for national and provincial parks. Its goals promote an appreciation, preservation, and conservation of the Eastern Lake Superior region's natural heritage. The organization holds monthly programs and periodic field trips to local areas of natural history interest. Information about upcoming meetings, outings, and relevant topics is available from the club’s website, .

Do a Web search of "LSSU biology research 2009" for a complete roundup of this spring's senior thesis research in biology at LSSU.