Ouachita Baptist University junior Tim Horton, a physics and professional chemistry double major from Arkadelphia, Ark., won the prize for best chemistry presentation at the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society Convention held in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month. He was one of five Ouachita students who presented their research at the conference.
Horton’s presentation, “Application of Computational Docking to Examine Metabolism of Chiral Drugs by CYP2C9,” is the result of a summer research project at Ouachita with Dr. Marty Perry, OBU’s Nell I. Mondy Professor of Chemistry.
“Tim developed a novel approach for quantitatively measuring how different three-dimensional forms of the same drug interact with proteins in the human body,” Perry said. “This approach allows for better understanding of drug interactions and the ability to enhance their effectiveness. Tim has done remarkable work and was very deserving of this recognition.”
Perry was referencing chiral drugs, which make up 50 percent of all the drugs on the market today. Chiral drugs are composed of the same parts, but are in such an order that two chiral drugs are mirror images of each other. This means that although chiral drugs look very similar, they are not completely identical and will react very differently within the body.
“I think that if we can understand more about how the body discriminates between these drugs, it can aid us in designing future drugs that fit the profile, so that drugs will be more effective,” Horton said.
“It’s really helpful to do something that so directly relates to my academic interests,” Horton said about attending his first national conference. He went on to note that the conference “felt like a camp experience because of how many other science majors were present.”
Horton and the four other Ouachita students who presented at the Alpha Chi convention in Nashville then joined several other OBU students in New Orleans to share their work at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exhibition.
“I was pleased that five of our most talented students represented Ouachita so well,” Perry said.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in some topic – whether it’s scientifically related or not – to pursue platforms, to share it early and as often as you can,” Horton added.
Hollyn McCarty, another Ouachita student who presented at the conferences, is a senior chemistry and biology double major from Texarkana, Ark. Her research with Perry and Dr. Lori Hensley, Ouachita’s Alpha Chi faculty sponsor as well as associate professor of biology and holder of the J.D. Patterson Chair of Biology, came together in her presentation, “Computational Analysis of PPARy Similar Proteins.”
Valerie Nickel, a senior chemistry and biology double major from Richardson, Texas, presented “Influence of a Coiled-Coil Isoleucine Zipper on the Trimerization and Endosomolytic Activity of the E5-TAT-mCherry Protein.” Earlier this year, Nickel won third place for her poster presentation at the INBRE research conference. Both presentations were products of an undergraduate research program she attended at Texas A&M University this past summer.
Crista Riggs, a junior chemistry and biology double major from Edmond, Okla., presented “Identifying Proteins that Bind to UBE2Q2 and Exosome Component 7.” Her presentation resulted from her work at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences summer undergraduate program.
Taylor Stanford, a senior chemistry major from White Hall, Ark., presented “The Effect of Spent Media Isolated from Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 on Biofilm Formation by Staphylococcus.” She conducted her research in the National Center for Toxicological Research summer undergraduate program.
For more information, contact Dr. Lori Hensley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5529.
By Rachel Gregory