Honors Program

Spring Showcase Presenters

Grayson Ostermeyer

Title: "Effects of Nutraceuticals on Proliferation of Spleen Cells of Tilapia In-Vitro”

Major: Biology              Minor: Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ahmed Mustafa (Biology)

External Reviewer: Dr. Punya Nachappa (Biology)

Honors Program Council Liaison: Dr. Punya Nachappa (Biology)


Grayson Ostermeyer is a Biology major with a minor in psychology. As an IPFW student for almost five years, he genuinely attests to the excellent programs and opportunities that our university offers to students to reach their scholastic potential. Discovering the Honors Program a few years ago has allowed Grayson to take advantage of the H-Options to fulfill special projects which have involved composing a research paper addressing the impacts of pharmaceutical patents on access to medicines in India, presenting a review paper he composed describing common anesthetics and analgesics used in the United States, and assisting in inter-departmental research describing colony formation on spiral-shaped mollusk shells. His role as the Lead Peer Health Educator for the past two years has also provided Grayson with exciting learning and outreach experiences, some of which include discussing student suicide on WQSU-LP 100.5 FM, hosting fashion shows and cooking series, lecturing hundreds of middle-school students about alcohol abuse, addressing the Homestead High School seniors about mental health and the college transition, and being invited to speak at several live webinars. Grayson was awarded the 2015 Youth Advocate and Partner by the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County for his active involvement in substance abuse educational initiatives at IPFW. For three years, he has been involved in Dr. Mustafa’s aquatic biology and stress physiology lab, during which time he has contributed towards several students’ master thesis projects. Last spring, Grayson was awarded a summer research grant through the Office of Sponsored Programs to study sea cucumber stress physiology and recently completed a spleen cell proliferation experiment to test the nutraceutical capacity of sea cucumber tissues and elderberry extract which constitutes his honors project work. Next year, Grayson will begin work towards his master’s thesis at Washington State University to characterize aspects of phloem transport in plants and will be supported through a teaching assistantship at the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center by assisting students and faculty with various types of electron microscopes. Grayson is a recipient of the Beaumont Cornell Scholarship as well as a travel grant by the Office of Sponsored Programs to attend Aquaculture 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Growing demand for low-cost supplies of farmed fish has fueled a search for enhanced aquaculture practices that are both economically viable and environmentally conscious. Maintaining animal health is a primary concern of fish farmers because improved culturing practices, particularly in terms of reducing chronic stress, can promote growth and reproduction while minimizing loss due to infection and imbalance of homeostasis. Increasing the nutritional quality of feed is an easily controlled method for infusing food additives like nutraceuticals that are associated with enhanced fish health and survivability.  The nutraceutical capacities of elderberry extract and sea cucumber tissues have been demonstrated in numerous experiments on animal models by reducing inflammation, protecting against infection, neutralizing radical oxygen species, and preventing tumorigenesis. This study evaluates the immunomodulatory potential of coelomic fluid collected from Cucumaria frondosa, commercial sea cucumber extract, and elderberry extract on Nile tilapia splenocytes. Elderberry extract provided a dose-dependent increase in splenic T cell proliferation as well as an increase in splenic B cells stimulated by concanavalin A and lipopolysaccharide. The sea cucumber-derived nutraceuticals did not contribute to significant splenocyte proliferation. These findings will lead to further research into the application of elderberry extract as an immune-enhancing feed supplement in fish cultivation.