Huntsville, Ala. ---- Two Alabama A&M University students made an impressive showing in Atlanta, Ga., recently at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference. The four-day event was designed to showcase young researchers.
AAMU senior chemistry major Taylor Hood and sophomore food science major Breana McArthur were standouts at the annual AAAS Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Both students are part of AAMU’s HBCU-UP student research component, which aims to recognize the STEM talents of students early in their matriculation, while
fostering the individual growth of students who are willing to challenge themselves through science research. The program creates a venue to showcase the hard work of students and their respective faculty mentors. Through competitions such as this, students have an opportunity to achieve national recognition for their contributions to science research.
AAMU’s participation in the conference was especially rewarding, since 700 underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students from 131 institutions participated in the conference. That number included students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), minority-serving institutions (MIs), and major research (R1) universities. Of the 229 AAAS travel grants awarded, AAMU students received 15.
Hood won first place in the poster presentations in the chemistry and chemical sciences category. Her project focused on the characterization of dopamine release in penicillin model of seizure. Hood’s research involved identifying neurotransmitters that increased during seizures and developing medical applications to decrease their production. While further research is needed, preliminary research results suggest that medication can be used to manipulate the amount of dopamine produced in the body, which can be a change agent to prevent or lessen the severity of seizures in humans.
Dr. James Schenk, a neurochemist at Washington State University, served as Hood’s primary research mentor, while Dr. Malinda Gilmore, AAMU assistant professor of chemistry, serves as Hood’s research mentor with the HBCU-UP project.
Breana McArthur placed third in the same category with research focusing on an analysis of the effects of coffee and cocoa on the production of cancer cells in humans, particularly colon cancer. Preliminary results indicate that two to three cups of coffee a day may decrease the production of cancer cells in the colon. Dr. Martha Verghese, chairperson of the Department of Food and Animal Sciences, serves as McArthur’s HBCU-UP mentor. Both Hood and McArthur plan to pursue doctoral degrees in their respective disciplines.
The AAMU’s HBCU-UP project director is Dr. Mostafa Dokhanian, assisted by Ms. Dianne Kirnes. For additional information, call (256) 372-8786.
- Jerome Saintjones