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Senior wins national recognition for biology research

Liang-I Kang, a senior from Newark majoring in biological sciences
11:57 a.m., March 15, 2006--Liang-I Kang, a senior from Newark majoring in biological sciences, earned national attention last month at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her poster presentation on research she conducted over the past two years under the direction Melinda Duncan, associate professor of biological sciences.

A 2006 Beckman Scholar and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar, as well as a 2004 winner of a Goldwater Scholarship, Kang began her independent research on junctional adhesion molecule A two summers ago and presented a summary of her work, in poster format, at the weeklong AAAS conference held in February in St. Louis.

Kang, who presented her research at the conference to scientists and a panel of designated judges, won the 2006 AAAS Student Poster Session in the Molecular and Cellular category.

“Posters are a very graphic way to present research, because they offer a 4-foot by 4-foot visual format where you can display everything you need to about your project,” Kang said, “and I was very fortunate to share my research in the molecular and cellular category.”

The judging of the posters presented by undergraduate and graduate students was based on how well the posters were created and how solid the research backing them was.

Kang's research, which focuses on characterizing the function and distribution of the protein junctional adhesion molecule A (JAM-A) in the corneas and lenses of experimental mice, required extensive lab work, careful data-keeping and consistent effort since the summer of her sophomore year. And, while a long way from becoming applicable to human health concerns, her research, she said, is leading her down some interesting paths and preparing her for her pursuit of both a medical and a doctoral degree at the University of Pittsburgh, starting this summer.

“At the moment, I'd like to focus on research in the lab,” Kang said, “but I'd also like to be able to apply any research that I do clinically, as well. One of my goals is to bring the two fields together.”

The AAAS conference, which caters to scientists and researchers working in a broad range of fields, offers particular opportunities for presentation, Kang said, because the categories are so diverse and because the opportunities for learning and networking are so varied.

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science publishes Science magazine, and one of its goals is to raise society's awareness of certain scientific implications,” Kang said.

Because AAAS strives to keep scientists connected to policymakers in Washington, D.C., and to give them a voice in the national arena, Kang said that the conference also serves as a way to learn about new developments in many different scientific fields.

Article by Becca Hutchinson
Photo by Kathy Atkinson

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