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UD participants at the 20th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences included (front row, from left) Hira Peracha, Caitlyn Doherty, Camryn Bernheimer, Alexander Stubbolo, Kyle Plusch, Jessica McAnulty, Lauren Reich, Rachel O'Sullivan, Erin Jackson and Hal White; (second row, from left) Anita Rao, Juan Ruiz, Tessa Jarvis, Dominic Villalba, John Vaile, Shrey Patel, Pragyan Khanal and Alexander George; and (third row, from left) Deni Galileo, Gary Laverty, Seung Hong, Jessica Tanis and Michael Testa. Not pictured are Carlton Cooper, Adrienne Fraczkowski, Chelsea Lee, John Nixon and Ben Rohe.

Undergraduate researchers compete in regional symposium

UD students take six first-place, five second-place awards

University of Delaware students received six first-place and five second-place awards at the 20th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, held Saturday, Oct. 14, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Twenty-one UD students competed in the event, which attracted more than 300 students from 48 East Coast colleges and universities in nine states. As in past years, Delaware students did very well.

Two students were repeat winners from last year. Kyle Plusch and Alexander Stubbolo, both senior biological sciences majors working with Deni Galileo, received awards for the second year in a row.

Stubbolo co-presented and shared a first-place award this year with Camryn Bernheimer, also from the Galileo lab. The Plusch and Stubbolo/Bernheimer posters were titled "Characterizing Glioblastoma Stem Cells for L1CAM Expression and Responsiveness" and "Can L1CAM Secreting Cells Act as "Pathfinders" for Brain Cancer?"

Other first-place award winners this year and their research supervisors were: 

  • Caitlin Doherty (Shunji Tomatsu, Alfred I. du Pont Institute Hospital for Children), who presented "Non-invasive pulmonary function test on Morquio patients";
  • Erin Jackson (Melinda Duncan, biological sciences), who presented "Exploration of Novel Markers of Posterior Capsular Opacification";
  • Alexander George (Jia Song, biological sciences), who presented “The Role of the Non-canonical Wnt/Calcium Pathway in the Development and Function of Primary Mesenchyme Cells";
  • Chelsea Lee (Jia Song, biological sciences), who presented "MicroRNA-31 Regulation of Eve Expression in the Early Sea Urchin Embryo"; and
  • Michael Testa (also from Jia Song's lab, biological sciences) who presented "The Role of Rab35 GTPase in Sea Urchin Morphogenesis."

Second-place awardees included: 

  • Jessica McAnulty (Tania Roth, psychological and brain sciences),
  • Rachel O'Sullivan (Joel Rosenthal and Emily Day, chemistry and biochemistry and biomedical engineering),
  • Shrey Patel (Jessica Tanis, biological sciences),
  • Kyle Plusch (Deni Galileo, biological sciences) and
  • Lauren Reich (Tania Roth, psychological and brain sciences).

Other student researchers who represented the University of Delaware included:

  • Adrienne Fraczkowski (Carly Pacanowski, behavioral health and nutrition),
  • Tessa Jarvis (Eric Wommack and Shawn Polson, plant and soil sciences and Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology),
  • Pragyan Khanal (Mark Parcells and Jaclyn Schwarz, animal and food sciences and psychological and brain sciences),
  • John Nixon (Erica Selva, biological sciences),
  • Hira Peracha (Shunji Tomatsu, Alfred I. du Pont Institute Hospital for Children),
  • Anita Rao (Erica Selva, biological sciences),
  • Juan Ruiz (Salil Lachke, biological sciences),
  • John Vaile (E. Fidelma Boyd, biological sciences) and
  • Dominic Villalba (Salil Lachke, biological sciences).

The students were accompanied by several UD faculty: Carlton Cooper, Deni Galileo, Seung Hong, Gary Laverty, Ben Rohe and Jessica Tanis, all from biological sciences, as well as Hal White, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry. UD faculty served as judges of posters presented by students from other colleges. The faculty members extend their gratitude to this dedicated cohort of undergraduate research scholars.

The UD Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Undergraduate Education program, which ended in 2015, has sponsored undergraduate research student travel to the UMBC Symposium and to national Experimental Biology meetings for well over a decade and has also directly supported undergraduate research in faculty laboratories since 1993.

Laverty, who coordinates the undergraduate research program in biological sciences, stressed the importance of continuing to provide travel funding for undergraduates, experiences that introduce students to the greater scientific research community and provide networking opportunities. Many former HHMI-supported students have commented on the impact that such exposure had on their confidence and current research careers.

Additional information about the event is available online.

To read about past UD participation in the UMBC Symposium, see the following links: 2008200920102011201220132014, 2015, 2016.

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