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​At the Experimental Biology Meetings, the UD group included (front row, from left) Jackie Fajardo, Zack Jones, Jen Lawrence, Seung Hong, Nicole Wenzell, Hannah Wastyk, Shelby Roseman, Dominic Sabtoleri and Gary Laverty and (back row, from left) Mike Wilson, Hal White and Nate Borders.

Article by Gary Laverty

May 23, 2017

Eight undergraduate students from the University of Delaware’s departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Sciences and Psychological and Brain Sciences presented their research at the annual Experimental Biology Meetings, held April 21-26 in Chicago. The annual Experimental Biology meetings typically attract more than 14,000 scientists, students and exhibitors from around the world, serving as a common meeting ground for several major scientific societies.

As part of the conference, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) sponsored its 21th Undergraduate Poster Competition, in which eight UD students took part. Nearly 250 students from across the United States competed this year in four categories within the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. This is the 17th year in which UD students have attended the conference to present their research. Over that period, UD students have won more awards than students from any other institution.

The undergraduate researchers not only presented within the ASBMB competition, but the students also each presented their research in one of the scheduled, thematic scientific poster sessions. This experience provides students a chance to directly interact with and network with researchers from all over the world, working on similar topics. Mixed in with their presentations students had the opportunity to attend a vast array of plenary talks, oral presentations on a variety of topics and workshops and exhibits of scientific instrumentation and publications.

The UD students who traveled to this year's meeting to present their research (with research mentors in parentheses) were

• Nathaniel Borders, biological sciences (Salil Lachke), "Functional Characterization of Caprin2 in Mouse Eye Development and Its Associated Developmental Defect, Peter's Anomaly";

• Zachary Jones, chemistry and biochemistry (Catherine Grimes), "Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Bioorthogonal Peptidylglycan Derivatives: Tools to Remodel Bacterial Cell Walls";

• Jennifer Lawrence, psychological and brain sciences (Jacclyn Schwarz), "An Investigation of Sex Difference in Microglia Morphology and Function";

• Shelby Roseman, chemistry and biochemistry (John Koh), "AF4-AF9 Protein-Protein Interaction Inhibitor: Synthesis and Biological Function";

• Michael Wilson, biological sciences (Randall Duncan and Mary Boggs), "Puringeric Signalling in Bone as a Potential Mechanism in Prostate Cancer Proliferation and Cancer-Induced Bone Pain";

• Nicole Wenzell, chemistry and biochemistry (Neal J. Zondlo), "Understanding a Fundamental Force in Protein Folding: Tuning the n-->π* Interaction in Designing Peptides";

• Hannah Wastyk, chemistry and biochemistry (Catherine Grimes), "Identification of a Pharmaeutical Therapeutic for NOD2, a Protein Mutated in Crohn's Disese, through Development of a Screen Using Split GFP Complementation"; and

• Dominic Santoleri, chemistry and biochemistry (Sharon Rozovsky), "Creating Peptide Hydazides via Intein Splicing for Native Chemical Ligation and Protein Labeling."

Four faculty accompanied the students on this trip: Jacqueline Fajardo and Hal White, both chemistry and biochemistry, and Seung Hong and Gary Laverty, both biological sciences. Yiben Wang, a doctoral student in chemistry and biochemistry, also joined the group from UD.

Students returned from this trip more excited about science and research than ever and shared their reactions:  

"Never before had I seen science being done on such a large scale,” Zachary Jones said. “Not only were there literally thousands of projects being presented in the forms of posters and talks, but it was reassuring to see such a large community of scientists who were genuinely interested in the advancement of all research."

Nathaniel Borders said, "Experimental Biology both verified my interest in the new career direction I will pursue after graduation (tissue engineering) and made me realize I love talking with other people about science (both mine and other people's). It really rekindled my enthusiasm for this discipline."

"The Experimental Biology conference provided the opportunity to present my own research while also learning about the ground-breaking research being conducted throughout the scientific community,” said Shelby Roseman. “Listening to accomplished scientists explain their work with passion and enthusiasm fueled my own excitement about biology."

Funding to support UD students traveling to the EB meetings and presenting their research began with and has continued over the years through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Undergraduate Science Education grants to UD (1994-2015). This year, additional funding was provided by the Department of Biological Sciences. Shelby Roseman received a Competitive Travel Award from ASBMB.

To read more about UD's participation at the conference and about the individual students' research projects, visit the website: http://www1.udel.edu/chem/white/HHMI4/EB2017-Chicago/Chicago 2017.html

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Eight undergraduate students from the University of Delaware’s departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Sciences and Psychological and Brain Sciences presented their research at the annual Experimental Biology Meetings, held April 21-26 in Chicago. The annual Experimental Biology meetings typically attract more than 14,000 scientists, students and exhibitors from around the world, serving as a common meeting ground for several major scientific societies.

5/24/2017
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