April 18, 2019  

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USM Students Win Recognition from Mississippi INBRE for Biomedical Research

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Dr. Glen Shearer, left, and Natalya Ortolano

Natalya Ortolano and Meredith Barefield, biological science majors at The University of Southern Mississippi earned special recognition during the University’s Undergraduate Symposium on Research and Creative Activity.

The senior undergraduates’ presentations on biomedical research won them the Mississippi INBRE award for the Best Paper on a Biomedical Topic. Ortolano captured first place, while Barefield took home the second-place award.

Ortolano delivered her presentation on research involving NF-kappa B Activation During In Vitro Differentiation of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells. She conducted her research for the past two years under the mentorship of Dr. Yanlin Guo, professor in the Biological Sciences department at Southern Miss.

“Doing research made me really fully understand and see how all of the things I was learning in class could be applied and used to solve scientific problems,” said Ortolano. “This research has provided me with the foundation and understanding necessary to become a successful biomedical researcher.”

Mississippi INBRE provides opportunities for undergraduate students to be trained in biomedical research through summer internships and awards students for their hard work in biomedical research.  

“The students of today are the doctors, nurses, researchers, teachers and policy makers of the future,” stated Dr. Glen Shearer, program coordinator of Mississippi INBRE. “I am sure that everyone who had the opportunity to chat with these bright, energetic students will agree with me-our future is in good hands,”

Ortolano said that being able to present her research to a diverse audience such as the one at the symposium is valuable as it taught her to be able to present her research using non-technical terms and it also helped her to better understand her own research.

“I think this is a valuable experience that many often overlook. Scientific research is mostly funded by government organizations which means that everyone’s tax dollars are paying for these projects,” said Ortolano. “If someone asks me what I am working on, I should be able to explain to them what it is in simple, non-technical terms. I think speaking about your research to people outside of your discipline is vital in becoming successful in any field.”

Shearer noted that Mississippi INBRE supports symposia such as this one because they are valuable for students as they move on in their professional career.

“The opportunity to present their own research at symposia such as this is an invaluable professional development experience,” said Dr. Shearer.

Mississippi INBRE, directed by Southern Miss Professor Mohamed Elasri, is a statewide program that is supported by an award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences. Their mission is to enhance the biomedical foundation in Mississippi and to reach out to Mississippians in order to improve health throughout the state.

Mississippi INBRE seeks to engage talented researchers and students in biomedical research projects that will increase the state’s research competitiveness as well as impact the health of citizens of Mississippi.

For more information about Mississippi INBRE, visit: msinbre.org.