Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Communication Studies and Philosophy


Iron plays a critical role in biological systems. Its variable redox properties make it a tremendously versatile element. It is involved in numerous cellular processes including; oxygen transport, nucleotide synthesis, nitrogen fixation, electron transport and a host of metabolic reactions. Without it, nearly all life would cease to function. However, under certain circumstances iron can be extremely detrimental to biological systems and has been linked to numerous pathologies, including cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and atherosclerosis. In the presence oxygen, Fe(II) is rapidly oxidized to Fe(III), and oxygen is reduced to potentially deleterious oxygen radicals (1). These radicals, especially the hydroxyl radical, are powerful oxidants, capable of oxidizing DNA, lipids and proteins (2). As a result, biological systems have developed intricate methods for maximizing the benefits of iron utilization while at the same time minimizing its destructiveness.



Faculty Mentor

S. Faust

Departmental Honors Advisor

Mary E. Leavitt