Student Research Projects

Concentration of Calcium in Aging Animals

Student Nicolletta Cuthbert ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 480: Instrumental Methods of Analysis


Calcium is an important element in many aspects of health. In order to maintain healthy bones and appropriate blood calcium levels, calcium must be provided in the diet. It has been observed in humans that as we age our calcium levels get lower, which can be seen in the amount of calcium in fingernails. In this project, both feline and canine nail calcium levels were being analyzed and compared by age and weight. It was thought that as the animals age the amount of calcium in the nails would also decrease. However, it was observed that despite the youngest animal at 1 year 6 months having the highest calcium concentration, the other five animals did not show the expected correlation of calcium concentration with age. The results ranged from a one ten-month old dog having 0.13±0.06mg calcium per gram of nail per kilogram body weight to a one six-month old dog having 1.8±0.5 mg calcium per gram of nail per kilogram body weight.


Project won best poster at VWC's annual 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium, Division of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics