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NCCU Students Showcase Research for Museum Audiences

Dr. Julie Horvath, left, works with students at NCCU's biology labs.

Biological/Biomedical Sciences and Integrated Biosciences students at  North Carolina Central University (NCCU) have an extra challenge to overcome to earn their graduate degrees: Successfully present scientific research at the SECU Daily Planet Theater inside the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

This week, more than a dozen diverse students will greet school children, visitors to North Carolina and other guests in the museum theater and present well-honed presentations on scientific topics, such as how stress effects health, the benefits of developing personalized vaccines, and what the environment can do to our genes.

Not only will the student presenters be gaining a wider audience for research findings but will hone skills that are increasingly important for scientists to possess, said Julie Horvath, Ph.D., an NCCU professor who holds a dual appointment as head of the Genomics and Microbiology Research Lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. NCCU is one of three universities with a lab at the museum. It was established in 2013 through a partnership between NCCU, the museum and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“As we gain a better understanding of the scientific factors affecting our genetics, environment and other aspects of human life, scientists are increasingly called on to communicate with the public,” Horvath said. “Communications skills are crucial for these graduate students if they are to help non-scientists understand how research interacts at times with public policy and even government spending.”

Graduate students earning their Master of Biological and Biomedical Sciences degrees or a doctorate in integrated biosciences will be taking the stage on Monday, April 30, from 1:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Wednesday, May 2, from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center, 121 W. Jones St., Raleigh, NC, 27603.

Student presenters and their topics for April 30 include:

·      Aakash Nawas, “Impact of Birth Method and Infant feeding on Gut Microbes and Health”

·      Acacia White, “Environmental Influence on Gene Function and Human Health”

·      Brianna Harris, “Personalized Vaccines”

·      Willysha Jenkins, “What Stresses You? How Stress You Experience Today Can Affect the Health of Your Descendants”

·      Joyce Brown, “The Human Gut Biome: Road to Healthier Life”
Najerie McMillian, “AUTS2 Gene: Another Piece to the Puzzle”

·      Nicholas Speaker, “Racial/ethnic Disparities in Alcohol-Related Problems”

·    Kalgi Modi, “The 1918 Influenza Virus: The Mother of all Pandemics”


Student presenters and their topics for May 2 include:

·      Dana Austin “No Lump, Still Cancer: The Breast Cancer We Don’t Hear About”

·      Uty Utin, “Gut-Busting Science: How Microbes can be Good for You!”

·      Alexandrea Brown “You Are What You Eat! How Food Affects Brain Health”

·      Charles Okechukwu, “Is Your Water Safe? Water Toxicity”

·      Brencee Smith, “I Like to Move It! The Obstetrical Limits of Human Pelvises During Childbirth”

·      Afsaneh Karami, “Antimicrobial Activity of Chitosan”

·      Jennifer Smith, “Don't Drink and Fly: Using Fruit Flies to Study Alcoholism in Humans”

·      Stephanie Arvai, “Single-cell Transcriptomics and Multiple Sclerosis”

·      Dawn Stancil, “Host Genetics Influences Skin Microbiota”

·      Hassan Shehata, “Regenerative Medicine and Diabetes”




Published: Monday, April 30, 2018
by Senior Writer and Editor, Renee Elder
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