After three years of research, a group of BHSU students and faculty studying how environmental factors influence the development of neurological disease have had their findings published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE. 

The research paper, entitled “The biotoxin BMAA promotes dysfunction via distinct mechanisms in neuroblastoma and glioblastoma cells,” focuses on the toxin BMAA, a chemical compound produced in many algae blooms. Authors of the paper include BHSU students Bryan Burton, Kate Collins, Jordan Brooks, Karly Marx, Abigail Renner, Kaylei Wilcox, Ellie Moore, Keith Osowski, Jarron Rowe, University of Sioux Falls student Jordan Riley, and Dr. Matthew Pawlus, assistant professor of biology at BHSU. 

The research provides evidence that the toxin (BMAA) may cause neurological disease by affecting brain development and cellular function. Pawlus said that he hoped this research would encourage studies of new forms of medicine that could help combat harmful effects these toxins have on the human body.  

Dr. Cynthia Anderson, dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences at BHSU, said, “It is so rewarding to see faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students involved in research and having it published in nationally recognized journals.” 

BHSU’s School of Natural Sciences has plans to further this research through future studies focusing on how BMAA toxin might impact certain cancer cells. “This research is preliminary, but it looks like BMAA might make cancer worse,” Pawlus added.  

This research paper is one of many academic opportunities at BHSU that students are encouraged to join if they have an interest. Anderson said, “Students can get involved in research by simply expressing their interest. There are volunteer opportunities, opportunities to do research for course credit, and even some paid undergraduate research fellowship opportunities.” 

The research paper can be viewed in full at 

For more information about this research, email Dr. Matthew Pawlus at