UD undergrads take top prizes at national biology conference
Three of the four first-prize winners in the 12th annual ASBMB Undergraduate Poster Competition were UD students: Aly Bourreza (left), Patrick Knerr (second from right) and Krista Neal (right). All three were also recipients of ASBMB Undergraduate Travel Awards.
5:10 p.m., April 16, 2008--Three students in UD's Howard Hughes Medical Institute's (HHMI) Undergraduate Science Education program and the University's American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Undergraduate Affiliate Network chapter won first-place awards at this year's Experimental Biology Meetings in San Diego, April 5-9.

Aly Bourreza, of West Easton, Pa., Patrick Knerr, of Emmaus, Pa., and Krista Neal, of Wilmington, Del., took first prizes in three of the four research poster contests sponsored by the ASBMB. They were competing with more than 140 students from 60 institutions nationwide.

UD’s honorable mention winners in the ASBMB Undergraduate Poster Competition include Stevie Dreher (left), Stephanie Culver (middle), Carly Dominica (second from right), and Andrew Harmon (right). Vivek Desai and Melissa Warriner (not pictured) also are honorable mention winners.

This is the seventh year UD students have won top awards at the Experimental Biology Meetings, adding to the University's distinction of having received more awards in the ASBMB research poster contest than any other college or university in the country.

Also honored was UD's chapter of ASBMB's Undergraduate Affiliate Network (UAN). The chapter was chosen the first recipient of ASBMB's Outstanding Chapter Award for having the best network chapter in the nation and in the Northeast region.

First prize awards in the ASBMB poster contests went to:

  • Bourreza, a senior biochemistry major, who won in the cell-signaling category. Her research faculty mentor is John Koh, professor of chemistry and biochemistry;
  • Knerr, a senior biochemistry major, who won in the proteins category. His research faculty mentor is Joel Schneider, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and
  • Neal, a senior biological sciences major, who won in the nucleic acids category. Her research faculty mentor is Daniel Simmons, professor of biological sciences.
Mark Sausen receives recognition as a finalist in the American Physiological Society's Undergraduate Poster Competition.

Poster competition honorable mention awards went to senior biological science majors Vivek Desai, of Newark, Del.; Melissa Warriner, of Chadds Ford, Pa.; Stephanie Dreher, of Haddonfield, N.J.; Stephanie Culver, of Newark, Del.; Andrew Harmon, of Germantown, Md.; and Carolyn Dominica, of Wilmington, Del.

Hal White, director of UD's HHMI undergraduate program and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and David Usher, assistant director of the HHMI program and associate chairperson of biological sciences, led the group.

“I was so proud of our students. Throughout the meeting, people from other schools kept asking me about our program and what we were doing to prepare our students so well. Others jokingly suggested that we sit out future competitions to give others a chance,” White said.

Presenting research in the undergraduate poster competition and during the normal scientific sessions was an enlightening experience for the students, Usher said. “There they got a chance to network with graduate students and faculty from many other institutions. They also were able to learn about cutting-edge science being done in their fields of study.”

For more information about the students and their presentations, visit [www.udel.edu/chem/white/HHMI3/EB2008/SD08.html].

Article by Barbara Garrison