Biochemistry majors present their research at symposium

Biochemistry students Laura Carvalho, Joel Kleinberg and Mary Yates study various aspects of protein deposits associated with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
November 12, 2013

Five McDaniel students recently presented their faculty-student collaborative research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, and two students received awards for their poster presentations.

Laura Carvalho and Joel Kleinberg placed second in their respective categories at the symposium held at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, while Biochemistry majors Deanna Dicello, Triet Bui and Mary Yates also presented their research projects – supported by the Richard Singer Summer Research Award, the Jean and Donald Richards Summer Research Fund, and/or the McDaniel Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Fund.

Kleinberg and Carvalho, both senior Biochemistry majors, studied different aspects of amyloid fibrils, the denatured protein deposits that are associated with such diseases as Alzheimer’s and type 2 Diabetes and are a research interest of Biochemistry professor Melanie Nilsson, who collaborated with all the students who presented posters at the symposium.

Carvalho from Silver Spring, Md., used pig ears to explore two different methods of making slides of amyloid fibril deposits, while Kleinberg from Setauket, N.Y., investigated whether an insulin-degrading enzyme facilitates or inhibits the formation of the amyloid fibril deposits at insulin injection sites.

With his sights set on medical school, Kleinberg welcomes the opportunity and the experience of doing research.

“And it could help somebody – that’s really possible,” says the senior who is preparing for MCATs, the medical school entrance exams.

Carvalho thinks every undergraduate should seize the opportunity to present at a professional symposium.

“You meet professors in your area of study and you see what kind of work other students at other universities are doing,” says Carvalho, who has begun applying to dental school. “It took a lot of preparation to present my research, from making the poster to practicing my speech, but it was wonderful to have other students interested in my research project and to be able to explain to them what I had done.”

McDaniel isn't preparing all students for lives in the lab or the academy, but the college prepares them to ask smart questions, identify the best sources of information, analyze and test that information, draw logical conclusions and generate ideas. What's more, students who complete research projects – independently or as part of professors' established programs – have powerful stories to tell in first job interviews or grad school applications.

Each year at McDaniel, students collaborate with their professors on more than 300 research projects. Many are published co-authors of professional papers and presentations even before they receive their degrees.

Research presented at the symposium:

  1. “Effects of Insulin-Degrading Enzyme on Insulin Amyloid Formation” by Joel Kleinberg of Setauket, N.Y., and Melanie R. Nilsson
  2. “Effects of Needle and Oil Variables on Amyloid Formation due to Insulin Injections” by Laura Carvalho of Silver Spring, Md., Megan Cook ’13 and Melanie R. Nilsson
  3. “Comparison of Microwave and Conventional Heating in the Formation of Bovine Insulin Amyloid Fribrils,” by Deanna J. Dicello of Gaithersburg, Md., and Melanie R. Nilsson
  4. “Biotinylation of Bovine Insulin Amyloid Fibrils,” by Triet Bui of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Eric Liggins ’13, Melanie R. Nilsson
  5. “The Mechanism of Congo Red Binding to Amyloid Fibrils,” by Mary Yates of Phoenix, Md., Josiah Guthland ’13, and Melanie Nilsson