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Senior Biology Majors Presented Posters at Neuroscience Meeting

Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Westminster College senior biology majors Brielle Kelly and Debra King presented posters at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting Nov. 11-17 in San Diego.

Kelly is a daughter of Brenda Kelly of West Middlesex and a graduate of West Middlesex Area High School. She presented two posters.

"This was my second time attending the neuroscience conference, but my first time presenting at the main poster session," Kelly said. "I really enjoyed talking to people who were really interested in my research."

Kelly's capstone project, "The Effects of Triple 19 Fertilizer on Nervous System Development in Zebrafish," examined the effects of a fertilizer commonly used in rural areas throughout the world. The results showed no observable effect on visual system development, but a negative effect on embryonic development. The research was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Marosh Furimsky, Westminster assistant professor of biology.

Contact Furimsky at (724) 946-7207 or e-mail for additional information.

"An Undergraduate-Designed Brain Awareness Event for the Local Community" detailed Westminster's second annual Brain Awareness Event. Kelly coordinated the two-day event that brought more than 100 high school students to Westminster. The high school students toured the neuroscience laboratory and participated in testing rats in a maze, EEG recording, histology techniques, and Brain Bee, a Jeopardy-style competition. The project was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Alan Gittis, Westminster professor of psychology.

Contact Gittis at (724) 946-7358 or e-mail for additional information.

King is a daughter of Richard and Meribeth King of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Shaler Area High School. She presented "The Effects of Antimicrobial Agent Triclosan on Visual System Development in Zebrafish."

The research observed the effect of sub-lethal amounts of triclosan, an antimicrobial agent commonly found in oral care products and household cleaners, on visual system development in zebrafish. The triclosan was shown to have an effect on eye surface area of the zebrafish embryos, reflecting the potential impact of increasing concentrations of the chemical on nervous system development in wild fish. Furimsky supervised the research.

The students received travel/presentation grants from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education. The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences. Visit for additional information about the Drinko Center and its programs.

Brielle Kelly
Debra King