McDaniel students take second place in their divisions at national research symposium

McDaniel student second place research symposium winners  with professors Dana Ferraris and Susan Parrish.
December 06, 2016

McDaniel’s two research teams returned to campus as award winners after presenting their posters at the UMBC Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences.

Taking second place in their divisions are seniors Kaitlynn-Marie Cendaña and Lamia Rhymee for their paper, “Characterizing Chromosome Rearrangements in Saccharomyces Yeast Using Single Molecule Long-Read Sequencing,” and senior Evan Callahan and junior Jake Holechek for their research, “Design, Synthesis and Evaluations of Specific Inhibitors of Mono-(ADP-ribosyl)transferase, PARP-14.”

McDaniel’s students were among 331 students presenting 274 posters judged by 74 faculty at the symposium. The symposium hosted nearly 650 attendees from colleges and universities across the country.  

Cendaña, a Biology major from Great Mills, Md., and Rhymee, a Chemistry major from Westminster, Md., tested the possibility of using a new single-molecule sequencing method to characterize genomic rearrangements in yeast.

“Chromosomal rearrangements drive evolution and cancer development,” says their research mentor Susan Parrish, McDaniel Biology professor and molecular biologist. “Our students gain invaluable experience, not only by presenting their own work but also by learning about the research being conducted at colleges and universities across the country.”

Dana Ferraris, visiting professor in Chemistry, mentored Callahan, an Exercise Science and Physical Education major from Boxborough, Mass., and Holechek, a Chemistry and Biochemistry major from Union Bridge, Md., whose research is oncology based. They are attempting to synthesize a selective chemical (small molecule) probe that will inhibit PARP-14 to find out what its function is in cancer progression.

This type of independent study, Ferraris says, is perhaps the most important part of an undergraduate experience, especially for science majors.

“One of the major benefits of attending a school like McDaniel is that undergraduates are almost guaranteed an experience like this,” he says. “Jake and Evan’s summer research project allowed them to design a molecule that will validate an anti-cancer drug discovery target. They were also able to work with a collaborator, gain proficiency laboratory setting, design their own experiments, contribute to peer-reviewed publications and present their research in a formal setting.

“I’m pretty sure I infected them with the research bug.”

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