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, 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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
FULL LIST OF 2022 BIOSCIENCE DAY POSTER WINNERS*
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
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
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.