Four students from Ouachita Baptist University were recognized for their research presentations at the recent 2013 Arkansas IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Conference in Fayetteville, Ark. A total of 20 Ouachita students from the J.D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences presented their work.
“The conference attracted attendees from 28 institutions in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi with oral and poster presentations given by students in biology, chemistry and physics,” said Dr. Marty Perry, OBU’s Nell I. Mondy Professor of Chemistry.
“Just about every year we have one of the largest groups in attendance, as we try to take as many students as we can to give them this opportunity,” said Dr. Tim Knight, dean of OBU’s Patterson School of Natural Sciences. “It is a really big step that a lot of undergraduates don’t get the chance to do.”
Pete Brunson, a senior biology major from Monticello, Ark., was one of three Ouachita students asked to give an oral presentation and was awarded second place in the chemistry division. Brunson said his research concerned “fluorescence spectroscopy as a method to measure the concentration of BPA in water exposed to thermal receipt paper.” Brunson conducted his research this past summer on Ouachita’s campus with Dr. Sara Hubbard, assistant professor of chemistry.
“I believe that top finishes like this not only reflect upon the individual student, but on the professors, as well,” Brunson said. “It shows their dedication to teaching and just how great of teachers they really are.”
Jessie Meyer, a senior biology major from Woodway, Texas, was also awarded second place for her chemistry poster presentation. “I was very surprised,” Meyer said. “It was a great honor to be awarded second out of the 37 presentations in the chemistry division.”
Meyer spent the past summer working with Perry, running simulations of protein and drug interactions using computational analysis. “This method can be used to increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of new pharmaceutical drugs being made today,” added Meyer.
Tyler Files, a senior biology major from Arkadelphia, Ark., received an honorable mention for his poster in the biology division. “I did a study on sarcophagus insect associations and succession on pig carrion during this past summer,” he said. “Forensic entomologists are able to determine how long a body has been there based on the insects and which stage of decomposition the body is in.”
“I am very excited for Tyler; he did a wonderful job presenting his findings and explaining to others why his research was meaningful,” said Dr. Jess Kelly, assistant professor of biology, who mentored Files on the project. “The award is a very nice accomplishment and validates our research.”
In addition to the award, Kelly added that their research garnered an extremely rare discovery of three American Burying Beetles. “Our discovery marks only the fourth known potential population in the world of this highly endangered species. To qualify, we will need to document it again next season.”
Tim Horton, a senior professional chemistry and physics major from Arkadelphia, Ark., also received an honorable mention for his poster in the chemistry division. Horton conducted his research over the summer at the University of California at Berkley. His biochemical research involved regulating autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. “I was able to determine key portions of a protein within the human body that can be modified so that the protein no longer aids the disease,” he explained.
Horton said that he would not put an emphasis on winning the award itself, but instead on the overall experience. “I was able to come back to Arkansas and share some of my results with people who were eager to hear them,” he said. “The research and conference put together helped put perspective on how research as a career can be exciting.”
Other Ouachita students who participated in the conference include: Brynn Alford, a senior biology and Spanish major from Rogers, Ark.; Mallory Burroughs, a junior biology major from Hot Springs, Ark.; John Butler, a senior biology major from Hope, Ark.; Trinity Dial, a senior biology major from Annona, Texas; Charlton Diaz, a senior biology and Spanish major from West Monroe, La.; Kirby Von Edwins, a senior biology major from Little Rock, Ark.; John Givler, a junior biology major from Monroe, La.; Drake Hardy, a senior biology major from Royal, Ark.; Leith Hobbs, a senior biology major from Crown Point, Ind.; Jesse Kitchens, sophomore biology major from Lewisville, Ark.; Megan Scarbrough, a senior biology major from Fayetteville, Ark.; Laura Strossner, a senior biology major from Conway, Ark.; Elise Teel, a junior biology major from Poyen, Ark.; Dustin Walter, a junior biology and chemistry major from Marion, Ark.; Mary Rachel Wolf, a senior biology major from Hot Springs, Ark.; and Will Wooten, a senior biology major from Conway, Ark.
For more information, contact Dr. Tim Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5528.
By Taylor Tomlinson