At Summer Research Day, students presented posters on topics including cancer, virulence factors, cigarette-related studies, infectious diseases and obesity.

Students Showcase Summer 2015 Projects on Research Day

Published October 6, 2015 This content is archived.

story by alexandra edelblute

Ninety-five student-scientists presented projects during the 2015 Buffalo Summer Research Day, an interdisciplinary forum marking the culmination of their summer research in Buffalo.


The undergraduate and graduate students worked with mentors from the University at Buffalo and partner institutions to explore cancer, virulence factors, cigarette-related studies, infectious diseases, obesity and other areas.

Expert on Human Genomics Presents Keynote Address

Norma J. Nowak, PhD, an internationally recognized human genomics researcher, presented “Catching the Future: Your Genome and Your Health,” the keynote address. 

Nowak is a professor of biochemistry and executive director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Her research has contributed directly to the Human Genome Project and genomic-based approaches to understanding heritable disorders and cancer.

Nowak, who has co-authored more than 145 research articles, is developing approaches to understanding and using information encoded in the genome to improve patient care, disease treatment and prevention.

She is the founder and chief scientific officer of Empire Genomics LLC, a molecular diagnostics company employing novel tools to diagnose genetic disease and enable personalized medicine — treatments based on a patient’s genetic makeup. 

Displaying Posters, Giving Oral Presentations

During the forum, students from various summer research programs participated in a poster expo. One student from each program was selected to deliver an oral presentation.

The following are research projects for the summer programs involving the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)

  • Megan Brewster presented “Investigation of the Coexistence of Pol IV and HDA on the Beta Sliding Clamp.” Mark Sutton, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, mentored Brewster.
  • Jose A. Cruz-Arazon worked on “Characterization of an Rpf2 Homolog and Its Association with the Pre-Ribosomal Complex in Trypanosoma brucei.” Noreen Williams, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, mentored Cruz-Arazon.
  • Megan Heaney presented “Identification of a Novel Post Translational Modification of BAF.” Wilma A. Hofmann, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, mentored Heaney. 
  • Andy Le presented “Glycosylation of Myelin Protein Zero and Unfolded Protein Response in P0T124M Cells.” Lawrence Wrabetz, MD, UB Distinguished Professor of neurology, mentored Le.
  • Megan Mendenhall presented “Acinetobacter baumannii and the Organization of Type IV Pili.” Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, mentored Mendenhall.
  • Matthew Rice presented “Toward the Characterization of Aerobactin Biosynthetic Enzymes in Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae.” Andrew M. Gulick, PhD, research assistant professor of structural biology, mentored Rice.
  • Justin Stec presented “Novel Expression Patterns of Coronin-1 in HIV and Cryptococcus Infected Macrophages.” Amy Jacobs, PhD, research assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, mentored Stec.

The SURE program is directed by Terry D. Connell, PhD, who is responsible for coordinating the Buffalo Summer Research Day. Connell is a professor of microbiology and immunology.

T35 Research Program in Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Immunology

  • Remon Bebawee presented “Dual IgA Protease Expression by Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae During Carriage in Adults With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).” Timothy F. Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research and SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine, mentored Bebawee.
  • Jeffrey Bulger presented “Evaluation of a Potential Virulence Factor in Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae.” Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, mentored Bulger.
  • Bryan Bunnell presented “Zinc Inhibits Multiple Aspects of the SOS Response in Escherichia coli.” John K. Crane, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, mentored Bunnell.
  • Joseph Iluore presented “Infection Induced Thymic Atrophy Affects Development of T Regulatory Cells.” Elizabeth A. Wohlfert, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, mentored Iluore.
  • Shanté White presented “Analysis of a Novel Treatment for Orthopedic-Related Infections.” Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, mentored White.

The T35 program is co-directed by Murphy and Kelvin P. Lee, MD, academic scholar in the department of medicine. 

Summer Apprentice Program, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute

  • Jacob Canavan presented “Interaction Between MbtH-Like Proteins and Enzymes in NRPS Pathways.” Andrew M. Gulick, PhD, research assistant professor of structural biology, mentored Canavan.
  • John Scaduto presented “The Analysis of Ubiquitous Octapeptides.” William L. Duax, PhD, professor of structural biology, mentored Scaduto.
  • Lauren Yacobucci presented “Fenamate Class NSAIDs Induce Cell Death in LNCaP Prostate Cancer Cells Independent of COX-2 Inhibition.” Michael G. Malkowski, PhD, interim chair and professor of structural biology, mentored Yacobucci. 

Jane F. Griffin, PhD, coordinates the summer program at Hauptman-Woodward Institute.

BioXFEL Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (BSURE)

  • Gabriela Casanova Sepulveda presented “Conformational Analysis of Cold Shock Protein at Different Temperatures Using SAXS and Crystallography.” Thomas Grant, PhD, scientific programmer in the Department of Structural Biology, mentored Casanova Sepulveda.
  • Reinaldo Hernandez Soto presented “Optimization of Phospholipid Bilayer Nanodiscs for Use in Single Particle Imaging Studies.” Bill Bauer, PhD, of the Department of Structural Biology, mentored Hernandez Soto.
  • Fiacre Kabayiza presented “Effect of X-ray Radiation Damage on Structural Determination of Xylose Isomerase.” Bauer mentored Hernandez Soto.

Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences Undergraduate Program (CLIMB UP)

CLIMB UP is a summer research program that gives undergraduates hands-on laboratory experience in biomedical and health sciences. Ten students had projects funded through the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship:

  • Yiran An presented “The Role of P38γ MAP Kinase During Myelination.” M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of biochemistry, mentored An.
  • Laura Baratta presented “The Role of Activin Receptor 2a in Cocaine Self-Administration.” David Dietz, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, mentored Baratta.
  • Maisa De Sousa Dos Santos presented “Longitudinal Assessment of Occupational Exposure to Profenofos in Adolescent Egyptian Agriculture Workers.” James R. Olson, PhD, UB Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology, mentored De Sousa Dos Santos.
  • Christian Dohring presented “Novel Inhibitors of Monocarboxylate Transporter (MCT1) in the Murine Breast Cancer 4T1 Cell Line.” Marilyn Morris, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, mentored Dohring.
  • Rebecca Lee presented “Characterization of Novel Estrogen Ligands From Pueraria Lobata.” Rajendram Rajnarayanan, PhD, research assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, mentored Lee.
  • Dian Lin presented “Phthalate Esters Target BRCA Binding Site on Human Estrogen Receptors and Modulate ER Activity.” Rajnarayanan mentored Lin.
  • Emily Marra presented “Loss of Xbp1 Decreases Long-Term Retinal Cell Survival.” Sarah X. Zhang, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, mentored Marra.
  • Kendrique Morgan presented “Design and Synthesis of Novel Anti-Cancer Agents Targeting Human Estrogen Receptor.” Rajnarayanan mentored Morgan.
  • Lindsay Robinson presented “Selective Enhancement of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Agonist 2-BFI-Induced Antinociception by Opioids with Varying Efficacy.” Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, mentored Robinson.
  • Kaliana Veros presented “The Role of Carbamate Insecticides on Human MT1 and MT2 Melatonin Receptor Sensitization.” Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for inclusion and cultural enhancement, mentored Veros.

Fifteen students had projects funded by the Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity Summer Research Experience:

  • Kaleish Ambris presented “Improvement in Markers of Lipid Metabolism in Skeletal Muscle From Offspring of Dietary-Induced Obese Dams That Underwent Treadmill Exercise Training.” David Williamson, PhD, assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences, mentored Ambris.
  • Stacie Arechavala presented “Surface Optimization of 3D Printed Vascular Phantoms for Parametric Imaging Software Validation.” Ciprian N. Ionita, PhD, research assistant professor of biomedical engineering, mentored Arechavala.
  • Brett Blizard presented “Fabrication and Transfer of Large Area Monolayer MoS2.” Hao Zeng, PhD, professor of physics mentored Blizard.
  • Karla Boeta-Lopez presented “The Role of Calcium in CaMKK2 Mediated Akt Activation.” Arthur M. Edelman, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, mentored Boeta-Lopez.
  • Christine Breindel presented “Screening for Candida albicans Genes Involved in Cellular Adhesion and Virulence.” Mira Edgerton, PhD, DDS, research professor of oral biology, mentored Breindel. 
  • Gabriel Kelly presented “Air Sense: A Portable Ambient Monitoring Device with Android.” Wenyao Xu, PhD, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, mentored Kelly.
  • Jacob Khuri presented “Association Between Parental and Child Obesity — Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Faculty in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health — Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, professor, and Jungwon Min, PhD, research scientist — mentored Khuri.
  • B. Erika Luis Sanchez presented “Social Play in Vasopressin-Deficient Brattleboro Rats.” Matthew Paul, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, mentored Luis Sanchez.
  • Christina Moore presented “Evaluation of RCT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia in Lung Cancer.” Grace Dean, PhD, RN, associate professor of nursing, and Suzanne Dickerson, DNS, RN, chair for biobehavioral health and clinical sciences and professor of nursing, mentored Moore.
  • Benita Okeke presented “Effects of Drug Loading on Antibody Pharmacokinetics.” Dhaval Shah, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, mentored Okeke.
  • Janet Park presented “Understanding the Relationship Between Rab 5 GTPase and Protein Sorting Nexin 8 in Phagocytosis.” Jason Kay, PhD, assistant professor of oral biology, mentored Park.
  • Elizabeth Penner presented “Function Divergence of Orc4 and Rif2 in Yeast Model Kluyveromyces lactis.” Laura Rusche, PhD, mentored Penner.
  • Yaritza Velez Burgos presented “Nanocages as a Novel Scaffold for Peptide Display.” Juliane Nguyen, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, mentored Velez Burgos.
  • Natalie Weimer presented “Exploring Factors Associated with Harmful Behaviors in the Transgender Community.” Adrian Juarez, PhD, RN, assistant professor of nursing, mentored Weimer.
  • Rashaun Williams presented “Effect of Hydration on Food Intake in Adults.” Jennifer Temple, PhD, associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences, mentored Williams.

Six students were involved with CLIMB-PRO, a division of CLIMB-UP for undergraduates interested in pursuing a medical degree or MD/PhD:

  • Aaliyah Gibbons presented “Impact of Subjective Well-Being on Mentally Ill Inmates.” Daniel Antonius, PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry, mentored Gibbons.
  • Aliyah Glover presented “Maternal Smoking in Lactation Increases Infant Weight-for-Length Gain.” Xiaozhong Wen, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, mentored Glover.
  • Aswad Jackson presented “The Novel Mechanism of Oxidative Stress in Fatty Livers.” Lixin Zhu, PhD, research assistant professor of pediatrics, mentored Jackson.
  • Courtney Mangum presented “Neuroprotective Role of Galectin-1 on the Neuropathogenesis of HIV-1.” Supriya D. Mahajan, MD, PhD, research associate professor of medicine, mentored Mangum.
  • Jacob Milling presented “Exploring the Patient Perspective on Self-Management of Chronic Diseases and the Patient-Physician Relationship.” Laurene M. Tumiel Berhalter, PhD, associate professor of family medicine, mentored Milling.
  • Angelica Rivera Rosa presented “The Fibrogenic Function of sFRP2 is Cell Type Restricted.” Te-Chung Lee, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, mentored Rivera Rosa. 

CLIMB-UP and its associated programs are part of the CLIMB program, directed by Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for inclusion and cultural enhancement.

Dental Medicine, Roswell Students Participated

The July 31 event included 26 students from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Summer Research Experience Program in Cancer Science and 17 students from the UB School of Dental Medicine’s Student Research Program.

Undergraduates — with mentors in the departments of biological sciences, chemistry and oral biology — also participated.