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USJ Students Win Top Spots During PIE Fellowship

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On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, two of the four University of Saint Joseph (USJ) students who participated in this summer’s Partnership for Innovation and Education (PIE) Fellowship Program won first place for their poster presentations. At the PIE Innovation Research Day, Olivia Anderson ’19 earned first place in “Best Undergraduate Poster,” while Nathan Arthur ’22 was awarded first place in the “Best Oral Poster” category.

Both students conducted their research for the 10-week program at UConn Health Center in Farmington, Conn. this summer, which culminated in their poster presentations. Anderson shared her work entitled, “The Use of a Human Senescent Cell Transplantation Model to Investigate the Role of Cellular Senescence in Insulin Resistance” and Arthur presented, “Visualization of PRG4 in the Colon of Mice Treated for DDS-Induced Colitis.”

“The PIE Fellowship was a great way to get hands-on experience in a cutting-edge facility,” said Anderson. “I was able to learn techniques that really helped build my resume. I loved being able to share my work at the end of the program, and practice what it’s really like to present research.”

Two other USJ students took part in the PIE Fellowship program: Mabintou Darboe ’20, who presented her talk – “Neuronal BACE1 Deletion Affect Mice Cognitive Function” – and Bianca Pappacoda ’20, who shared her poster presentation entitled, “Differences Among Fish Populations Using Nuclear DNA.”

Pappacoda – whose PIE mentor was Michelle Kraczkowski, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology – also presented her work at the Evolution 2019 Conference in Providence R.I. this summer.

“I saw fantastic growth in Bianca over the two months, in terms of molecular biology, computer, and bioinformatics skills – to levels that are otherwise unachievable in a 10-hour per week undergraduate academic semester setting,” said Kraczkowski. “I feel that the PIE program was an extremely valuable experience. These opportunities are not plentiful enough for undergrads, but are critical for self-discovery regarding their future plans and goals.”

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