Students garner awards at national biomedical conference

Cecilia Im
Jasenia Hartman
Adan Codina
Shannon Barbour
Gustavo Chata

Five UC Santa Cruz students received awards for their presentations at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in San Antonio in November. All of the students were participants in programs administered by the UC Santa Cruz STEM Diversity Office.

Two of the awards went to scholars in a new Postbaccalaureate Research Experience Program (PREP) funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The UCSC PREP program supports students from underrepresented groups who have recently earned their undergraduate degrees, providing them with intensive research experience and preparing them to earn Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.

The PREP winners were Jasenia Hartman and Gustavo Chata. Hartman, who works with Professor Donald Smith in the Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, won in the conference's Chemistry Division sponsored by the American Chemical Society. Her presentation was on "Alteration of Glutamatergic Proteins in the Prefrontal Cortex and Striatum Following Early Life Manganese Exposure: Potential Neurotoxic Targets." Chata, who works in the lab of Professor Pradip Mascharak in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, won in the Engineering, Physics and Math Division sponsored by the Biophysical Society. His presentation was on “Synthesis and Characterization of a Wound Dressing that Allows Tracking of Silver as the Antibacterial Agent."

Two poster presentation awards went to students in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program. Also funded by the NIH, the MARC Program has been providing support to junior and senior honors students in the biomedical disciplines at UC Santa Cruz for over three decades.

The winners from the MARC program were Adan Codina and Shannon Barbour. Codina, who works with Professor William Sullivan's research group in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental (MCD) Biology, won in the Biochemistry Division sponsored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for his poster presentation on "Mitochondrial Protective Peptide SS-31 Reverses Cardiac Aging in Mice." Barbour, who works with Professor Ted Holman in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, won in the Developmental Biology and Genetic Division sponsored by the Society for Developmental Biology and Genetics Society of America for her poster on "An Evolutionary Arms Race between Endogenous Retroelements and their Restriction Factors."

Another poster award went to Cecilia Im, a junior in the UC LEADS (Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees) program, who works with Professor Barry Bowman in MCD Biology. Im won for her poster presentation on "UFO: The Search for an Unidentified Fungal Organelle Using a Novel Technique for Homologous Integration." The UC LEADS program prepares promising students for advanced education in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM). The program, which is run out of the STEM Diversity Office and funded by the UC Office of the President, is designed to identify upper-division undergraduate students with the potential to succeed in STEM disciplines, but who have experienced situations or conditions that have adversely impacted their advancement in their field of study.