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Chemistry graduate receives summa thesis award

Marc "Marco" LaNave, a chemistry honors graduate from the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), has won the John Turner Award for the Best Undergraduate CLA Honors Project submitted in 2011. LaNave's magna cum laude thesis was Mitochondria Capture by Magnetic Separation. Marco's adviser was Professor Edgar Arriaga. He graduated in May 2011.

Marco's thesis was judged the most outstanding of a field of seven nominated by CLA departments. The award was established in 1988 and named for the late John E. Turner, a regents professor of political science. As the 2011 year's Turner Award winner, he will receive an plaque, and a $200 honorarium.

His research was part of a project led by Thane Taylor of the Organelle Research Group (adviser Edgar Arriaga). Thane is seeking to develop DNA strands called aptamers that bind specifically to mitochondria, which are found in animal cells. Marco's research explored a technique for isolating mitochondria by specific binding of the organelles to magnetic beads and measuring the captured amount of mitochondria.

"I hope that my work has both advanced mitochondria capture and measurement techniques as well as helped the project of developing aptamers, which can be used to differentiate cancerous and non-cancerous cells or to deliver drugs to specific target cells or molecules, in addition to many other applications in biology and chemistry," said Marco.

Last fall, Marco volunteered as a classroom assistant in a high school chemistry classroom at Minneapolis Washburn High School and a middle school science classroom at Risen Christ School in Minneapolis.

At the University of Minnesota, he was a sports reporter for Radio K and the Minnesota Daily. In 2011, Marco was a radio broadcast production assistant for the Minnesota Twins. Currently, he is the media relations manager for the Quad Cities River Bandits, a minor league baseball team in Davenport, Iowa. He handles publications, oversees the media relations department, and is the lead broadcaster for all 70 home games broadcast online at