Funding undergraduate work

By Nadine Gombakomba

Editor’s note: The 2017 application deadline for the ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award is March 6.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Research Award funds students who are doing summer research projects. The undergraduate students are members of the ASBMB Student Chapters program and do research in the laboratory of an ASBMB member.

To apply, a student must submit a statement outlining the research project, his or her role in the project, and career goals. When they complete their research projects, the students are encouraged to present their work at the ASBMB Undergraduate Poster Competition during the ASBMB annual meeting. The application for the 2017 awards is open until March 6.

In 2016, the ASBMB gave 10 students this award. The students demonstrated a passion for research and intend to pursue careers in science and medicine. The following were some of the recipients:

Nicholas Braganca

Nicholas Braganca (University of Tampa)

Nicholas Braganca is investigating the effects of Polyphenon E, a proprietary formulation of the polyphenols in green tea, on the gene expression of prostate cancer cells. Braganca also has been a lab mentor for analytical chemistry and biochemistry.

Braganca is the president of the University of Tampa’s ASBMB Student Chapter, where he helps to lead the chapter’s outreach events. After graduating, he plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree and become a cardiothoracic surgeon and researcher.

Zindzi Thompson

Zindzi Thompson (Mary Baldwin College)

Last summer, Zindzi Thompson developed a method of detecting the molecule LL-37, a protein commonly found in the immune system. Thompson is now using the method to determine the effects of culturing cells with vitamin D on LL-37.

At the age of 13, Thompson was accepted into the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College and skipped high school to study for an undergraduate degree in chemistry. Currently a junior, Thompson plans to attend medical school after graduating and become a neurosurgeon.

Andrew Tobias

Andrew Tobias (Montclair State University)

Andrew Tobias first became interested in science in fourth grade when a teacher introduced him to rockets and meteorites. He is working on a project that involves cloning, expression and purification of a potential drug target, dihydrofolate reductase, which potentially can inhibit the growth of a filarial nematode that causes lymphatic filariasis.

Tobias intends to gain experience in the pharmaceutical industry before pursuing a doctoral degree. Tobias is the president of the chemistry club at Montclair State University. He is working with the club members to host a chemistry magic show for high school students.

Acacia Wimmer

Acacia Wimmer (St. Mary’s University of Minnesota)

Acacia Wimmer investigated the mechanistic role of an herbicide called atrazine. Wimmer studied atrazine’s effects on fatty acid metabolism by quantifying acetyl CoA carboxylase levels in the livers of mice. After graduating, Wimmer plans to enroll in the physician assistant program at Concordia University Wisconsin. She would like to “take the talents and knowledge I have been given to help improve and support the lives of others.” She advises undergraduates wanting to do research to be proactive, talk to professors and find opportunities through various organizations.

Yuyi Zhu

Yuyi Zhu (Towson University)

Yuyi Zhu developed an interest in cellular biology after his seventh-grade teacher introduced images of cells to his class. Zhu’s project focuses on repurposing drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by combining them with recombinant immunotoxins to improve some cancer treatments.

Zhu volunteers at the Greater Baltimore Center in the surgical intensive care unit and oncology unit and works with autistic adults at the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism. Once he graduates, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cancer biology.

Nadine Gombakomba is the Student Chapters coordinator at the ASBMB.

This piece originally appeared on the February 2017 issue of ASBMB Today and is reposted with permission.

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