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Students shine at SC INBRE Science Symposium

Furman brought 25 to the 11th annual SC INBRE Science Symposium, Allen Knepper (at poster) was one of the winning presenters.
Furman’s representation at the conference was 25 strong – 17 students, six faculty and two administrators.

Furman students won “best poster presentation” in three out of six categories at the 11th annual South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) Science Symposium, taking top honors in chemistry/biochemistry, molecular/cell biology and neuroscience.

Furman didn’t participate in the remaining three categories: bioengineering/biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, and public health.

Six faculty, 17 students and two administrative staff attended the meeting, which was held Jan. 25 in Columbia at University of South Carolina.

The winning students came home with bags full of donated swag from SC INBRE. But, more importantly, they came home with renewed confidence in their research and presentation skills.

“The student awards at the SC-INBRE state meeting reinforce the excellence of Furman’s undergraduate research experiences and demonstrate the outstanding quality of our faculty scholarship,” said Associate Provost for Integrative Science John Wheeler. “The ability to communicate complex topics to a broad audience is an exceptionally valuable skill. We are thrilled these students were recognized for their professionalism and self-confidence in presenting their work at this highly competitive event.”

Here are a few details about the winning presentations:

Allen Knepper presents research.

Student: Allen Knepper ’22
Adviser: Timothy Hanks, professor and chair of chemistry
Research: Knepper and other researchers are working to develop coatings that arrest the adhesion of proteins and bacteria. The project has implications in areas such as reducing the buildup on ships’ hulls of microorganisms, plants, algae or small animals that interfere with speed and/or cause structural or functional deficiencies. The research might also apply to biofilms on medical implants, such as surgical mesh where bacteria can accumulate and act as an antibiotic-resistant barrier in patients.

Molecular/Cell Biology
Student: Hunter Alexander ’20
Adviser: Adi Dubash, assistant professor of biology
Research: Alexander’s project focuses on studying the proteins involved in the spreading and migration of cancer cells. Alexander and other researchers have identified specific cellular signals that block the expression of genes needed for cancer cells to grab onto extracellular protein fibers and move efficiently. These findings have produced significant implications for potential new drug treatments that could be used to block the enhanced ability of cancer cells to spread and migrate through the body.

Regan Schuetze presents research.

Student: Regan Schuetze ’20
Adviser: Onarae Rice, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience
Research: Schuetze’s research examined the role of the brain’s dopamine receptor D3 in a rodent model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Schuetze, a neuroscience major, and other researchers found that by blocking the D3 receptor with a pharmacological agent, rodents do not develop PTSD-like behavior. The research is significant because it has identified a brain pathway for PTSD and it suggests that scientists might be able to prevent PTSD from developing in humans as a consequence of their work-related traumatic experiences.

Adi Dubash and Linnea Freeman, both assistant professors of biology and INBRE Developmental Research Program grant recipients, presented talks at the symposium. Schuetze and biology major Madison Covington ’20 were randomly selected, along with four other students, to give rapid-fire, single-slide podium presentations in a session dubbed “3-Minute Madness.” See posters and abstracts here.

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