January 2011

Undergraduates receive ASBMB support for summer research projects

This past summer, eight undergraduate students from six colleges and universities were awarded Undergraduate Research Awards from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Undergraduate Affiliate Network. Here, the students relate some of their experiences and what they learned.


Mary Alleman and Giuseppi Staltari from Duquesne University.

This past summer, eight undergraduate students from six colleges and universities were awarded Undergraduate Research Awards from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Undergraduate Affiliate Network. This is the second year that Undergraduate Research Awards have been offered by the UAN. Unlike some programs, such as the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates, where students travel to large research universities, most of the UAN-supported projects were conducted at smaller institutions.

The student awardees and their projects are as follows:
• Mike Milligan (University of Michigan-Dearborn): Expression of affinity-tagged riboflavin binding protein to examine copper binding at the protein’s active site
• Matt King and Hillary Turner (Missouri Western State University): Kinetic studies of albumin esterase activity
 Ray Romano (Marymount Manhattan College): Insulin production in cells undergoing differentiation
• Kevin Stebbings (Duquesne University): Generation of  anti-malarial peptides by proteolysis
• Kelsey Tyssowski (Wesleyan University): Expression and purification of G-protein coupled receptors for ligand binding screening and crystallization
• Giuseppe Staltari (Duquesne University): Examination of cytosine methylation and gene silencing in maize
• James McDermott (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse): Hemolysin A as a model for protein folding during template-assisted hemolysis.

To apply for the Undergraduate Research Awards, the students submitted research proposals that detailed plans for projects to be conducted during the summer with guidance and supervision by an ASBMB faculty sponsor. Applications were reviewed and ranked by a panel of UAN regional directors. Awardees received $1,000 for supplies, equipment or reagents to support their projects and will present their results at the ASBMB annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this spring.  During the meeting, they also will compete in the Undergraduate Poster Competition.

Several of the student researchers included comments on the impact of their research experiences in their progress reports to the UAN:

“I have learned that research is usually a long process that requires persistence and accuracy in order to make progress. The experience was invaluable because, until I actually started research, I couldn’t have appreciated the hard work that goes into every breakthrough.”
– Mike Milligan

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