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Biology major presents research at SICB with help from Drinko Center

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Posted on Monday, March 13, 2023

A Westminster College senior biology major was able to share her undergraduate research project at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) annual conference in Austin, Texas, in January. 

Mia Greco ’23, an honors student from New Castle, Pa., presented “The Effect of Embryonic Exposure to Ibuprofen on Visual System Development.” Greco used zebrafish as a model organism in her research to simulate fetal exposure to a pregnant mother’s intake of ibuprofen and its potential effect on eye development in the fetus. 

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) that is commonly used to reduce fevers and relieve pain. However, it is not recommended for pregnant mothers after the 32-week gestation mark because it is a potential oculotoxin, which is suspected to alter retinal blood flow during development. Ibuprofen also inhibits cyclooxygenase enzymes, which function in the synthesis of prostanoids—a cellular lipid mediator produced by the retina early in development to regulate blood choroidal and retinal blood flow. 

Greco exposed zebrafish to varying concentrations of ibuprofen while utilizing microscopy and sectioning and staining techniques, images, measurements and samples to access the overall morphology, lens diameter and retinal cell proliferation, and vasculature of the zebrafish. 

Greco’s results saw a decrease in lens diameter between embryos exposed at higher concentrations when compared to the control subjects.

Dr. Marosh Furimsky, associate professor of biology at Westminster, served as Greco’s faculty mentor.

“After attending SICB, I gained a new perspective on the world of research,” said Greco, who attended the conference with the aid of travel grant from the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research. “I learned that my work is important and the scientific community cares about my results. I was delighted to explain and field questions about my project and it was refreshing to be around people with similar interests. Additionally, this conference was something I had anticipated in my optometry school interview, explaining that I will gain the experience to communicate my personal research to an international audience.”

Greco will pursue a doctorate in optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry after graduating from Westminster in May. 

For more information on the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, contact director Dr. Karen Resendes at

For more information on the biology department, click here.