An outstanding group of student researchers in the sciences at California State University, Dominguez Hills had the opportunity to attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in St. Louis, which was held Nov. 9 through 12. Many of the students presented posters based on their research with faculty mentors, and were able to receive feedback from fellow students, faculty, and administrators at institutions from around the world.
Cesar Deleon, a senior chemistry major in the Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-USTAR) program, was recognized with an the award for one of the best poster presentations in chemistry for his work on “Stacking of Metallic Microarray Meshes to Probe the Molecular Interaction and Orientation Structure of Gramicidin D Incorporated within Supported Bilayer Lipid Membranes by Infrared Microscopy,” which he created under the mentorship of assistant professor and alumnus Kenneth Rodriguez (Class of ’01, B.S., chemistry).
Deleon said that having the opportunity to represent CSU Dominguez Hills at ABCRMS and win the poster competition was “a real honor.”
“ABCRMS provided me with the chance to network with professors, graduate students, postbac students, undergraduates, and institutes from all across the nation,” he said. “[The conference] also provided professional development workshops that gave me an extra edge in the professional aspect. The opportunity to listen to renowned scientists describe their research has really motivated me to proceed down the path to a Ph.D. I now feel that I can truly accomplish my desire to become a successful scientist and expand the frontier of scientific knowledge.”
Two other seniors from the MARC-USTAR program presented their posters. Alisha Coffey, biochemistry, also worked with Rodriguez on “Utilizing the Extraordinary Optical Transmission of Metallic Microarray Mesh for Enhanced Molecular Dynamic and Protein Interactions of G-Actin to F-Actin within a Supported Bilayer Lipid Membrane In Vivo by Infrared Microscopy.” Antonio Zamudio displayed his poster on, “Anthrax Toxin Receptor Modulates CD1d-Mediated Antigen Presentation,” as mentored by associate professor of biology Helen Chun.
Seniors Brittany Tillman, psychology, and Ashley Martin, biochemistry, represented the federally funded Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) – Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program. Tillman presented her work on “The effects of dietary supplements on ethanol-induced oxidative stress,” which she created with Dr. Samuel French, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). Martin’s poster on “Fructose Increases Glucose Utilization for Fatty Acid Synthesis in 3t3-L1 Preadipocytes” was researched with the guidance of Dr. Paul Lee, who is also from LA BioMed.
Kacie Deters and Naomie Olivos, who have both earned their master’s degrees in biology at CSU Dominguez Hills, represented the Indiana University School of Medicine Bridges to the Doctorate Program. Deters presented her poster, “CSF Association with MAPT polymorphisms and haplotypes,” which she researched under the guidance of Dr. Andrew J. Saykin at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Olivos exhibited “Downregulation of Wnt signaling and decreased osteoclast activity in mice lacking the PTH Receptor 1 in osteocytes,” which she created with mentor Dr. Teresita Bellido of the Indiana University School of Medicine.
In addition, Kevin Nguyen, a senior majoring in biochemistry, presented “Purificiation of an N- Terminal Huntingtin Cleavage Product,” which he created with Dr. David R. Borchelt of the University of Florida. Senior biology majors Brittany Goudeau and Tiffany Smith also attended ABRCMS.
Students found the opportunity to attend ABRCMS was a pivotal experience in their education, one that influenced their goals to attain advanced degrees and careers in research.
“ABRCMS was a defining moment in my career as a researcher,” said Zamudio. “It was the point at which I was able to proudly display to the world the fruits of my labor on the bench. The fact that there were graduate programs from around the country, and indeed, from around the world, made the conference that much more meaningful to a prospective applicant such as myself. It was a wonderful forum to share ideas, network and advance one’s career.”
The students were accompanied at the conference by Laura Robles, dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences; H. Leonardo Martinez, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Thomas Landefeld, professor of biology; and Rodriguez.
Travel expenses were fully or partially funded for the students. Tillman and Martin received travel scholarships from ABRCMS. Deleon’s travel was supported by the Promoting Excellence in Graduate Studies program at CSU Dominguez Hills; and Goudeau, Nguyen, and Smith received support through Landefeld from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Minority Access to Research Careers (FASEB MARC) Faculty/Student Travel Award.
– Tigress Briggs and Joanie Harmon