Student Research Shines at UMD’s Bioscience Day

28 undergraduate and graduate students win poster session awards

In a successful return of Bioscience Day this month, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alums gathered to learn about the most recent advances in the biological sciences and biotechnology at the University of Maryland.

In addition to sessions with UM Ventures and the University Career Center and four lectures, undergraduate and undergraduate students presented research during a poster session in the Stamp Student Union Grand Ballroom. Twenty-eight students won poster awards—take a look below at some of the research posters that won awards this year.

Viviana Alpizar 

Viviana Alpizar, a bioengineering and neuroscience dual-degree undergraduate student, decided to study Neimann-Pick Disease Type C, an inherited and deadly condition that causes cholesterol accumulation. Alpizar said she chose to study this disease because there is enough information available to develop research questions, but there is no significant support for the treatment of Neimann-Pick Type C.

“What I’ve learned in conducting this research and what I’ve been telling everyone as I’ve presented my poster today is that cholesterol has a significant impact on the brain,” Alpizar said. 

Alpizar won a first-place poster prize for her research poster, “Cholesterol Depletion Increases Nanogel Uptake in iPSC Derived Brain Microvascular Endothelial Cells.” After Bioscience Day, she presented this research at the 2022 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting

Michael Shuster 

One in 10 people gets sick from contaminated food worldwide, presenting a significant public health burden. Biological sciences Ph.D. student Michael Shuster won a first-place prize for his poster, “Inhibition of Type I Interferon Signaling by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.”

“By better understanding how salmonella interacts with our immune system it could lead to breakthroughs in therapy,” Shuster said. “What’s exciting about my research is it helps us understand how salmonella interacts with our immune system. If we can understand that we could identify and target the host-pathogen and develop a treatment that could help fight this bacteria without using antibiotics.”

Jennifer Tabet

Junior neuroscience major Jennifer Tabet studies the power of physical touch, and presented her research in the Neurocognitive Development Lab at UMD. She won a second-place prize for her poster, “Parent-Child Touch and Children’s Brain Development.”

“This event, Bioscience Day, it’s such good practice,” Tabet said. “It’s one thing to understand the research we’re working on but to explain it to a new audience is a whole different thing. Everyone was super excited to hear about my research and I’m really glad I came to present my poster.”

Alyssa Evangelista 

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions such as masking and quarantining were put in place to limit the spread of the virus. The measures were not only successful in reducing COVID infections but also in limiting other respiratory infections, such as the flu. 

Biological sciences major Alyssa Evangelista works in the Public Health Aerobiology, Virology and Exhaled Biomarker Laboratory (PHAB Lab), where she studied the incidence of respiratory infection at UMD after the loosening of masking and other restrictions. She won a third-place prize for her poster, “Assessing the Incidence of Influenza-like Illnesses on the UMD Campus During Spring 2022.” 

“Bioscience Day has been a great low-stress environment to share research and talk with people who are like-minded to get feedback and answer their questions,” Evangelista said. “For a lot of undergrads, this is our first poster presentation experience.”


First Place

Viviana Alpizar, bioengineering and neuroscience undergraduate

Kevin Hackbarth, biological sciences graduate student

Matthew Nikzad, biological sciences and psychology undergraduate

Akshay Patel, biological sciences graduate student

Sragvi Pattanaik, biological sciences undergraduate

Sachi Pawar, biological sciences undergraduate

Sai Pranav, biological sciences undergraduate

Michael Shuster, biological sciences graduate student

Vishavdeep Vashisht, biophysics graduate student


Second Place

John Babich, biological sciences undergraduate

Skylar Chan, computer science undergraduate

Alyssa Evangelista, biological sciences undergraduate

Nora Fadul, biological sciences undergraduate

Maximus Jenkins, biological sciences undergraduate

Zeynep Kacar, mathematical statistics graduate student

Shreyas Kanwar, biological sciences undergraduate

Jie Li, chemistry graduate student

Jacob Martin, biological sciences undergraduate

Mary Neuheisel, chemistry undergraduate

Melissa Perry, biological sciences graduate student

Jennifer Tabet, neuroscience undergraduate


Third Place

Pavan Bhat, bioengineering undergraduate

Meghan Deyesu, biological sciences undergraduate

Sohini Dutt, animal sciences graduate student

Adam Levav, computer science undergraduate

Wright Makambi, chemical engineering graduate student

Rayshaun Pettit, biological sciences undergraduate

Xuedi Zhang, animal sciences graduate student


*Note: The undergraduate and graduate students listed here are the students who submitted the posters. Other students (and faculty members) contributed to this prize-winning research.

See the full photo gallery from Bioscience Day 2022 here.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.