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Westminster College Associate Professor Provides Opportunity for Students to Present at Cell Biology Conference in San Diego, Calif.

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Posted on Friday, January 22, 2016

Three students from Westminster College return to campus this semester with experiences and memories from last month’s trip to the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) national conference in San Diego, Calif.

This year, ASCB hosted over 5,000 biologists from around the world to take part in the Dec. 2015 event, which emphasizes “advancing scientific discovery in cellular biology” through networking opportunities, research presentations, seminars, renowned speaker series, and professional development training. Attendees range from high school teachers, undergraduate and graduate students to teaching and research faculty from various levels of institutions.

Dr. Karen Resendes, associate professor of biology and program coordinator for molecular biology, and students Kelly Higby, Brooke Mancuso and Meredith Mishler traveled all-expenses paid through various grants and awards.

Resendes received an ASCB travel award for her presentation, “Clickers Are Less Effective than Open-Ended Anonymous Review Sessions for Exam and Preparations in a Small Upper-Division Cell Biology Course,” which she presented in an educational research session that was a as subset of the 1,000s of posters presented daily at the conference this year.

“While I have attended and presented at the ASCB national meeting for several years, this time around was a new experience for me in that I transitioned from feeling like a novice attendee to a more experienced scientist and faculty member,” said Resendes.

During the conference, Resendes also spent time leading professional development sessions as a part of a team of representatives for the council on undergraduate research (CUR) in the areas of performing research with undergraduates and preparing applications for faculty positions at primarily undergraduate institutions.

Higby, a senior molecular biology major, traveled through an award by the Dietz-Sullivan Biology Research Experience Award and presented “5-Fluorouracil, but not Camptothecin Derivatives Disrupt Nuclear Transport before Nuclear Envelope Breakdown in Crm1 Overexpressing Cells.”

“Walking into the ASCB conference hall filled with hundreds of posters and thousands of people made me realize how much there is to learn in this world, and it made me realize that no matter where you go in the world, or the fields you specialize in, there will always be questions to answer,” said Higby.

Mancuso, a senior biology major, secondary education minor and class of 2017 Noyce Scholar, traveled through a grant from IQ: STEM. At the conference, she explored research opportunities in education as a primary step in designing her own project.

“Being an undergraduate at a national research conference provided great opportunities for expanding my knowledge of the current research that is out there,” said Mancuso.

Mishler, a senior biology major, was provided with the ASCB Undergraduate Travel Award. She presented her research on “Characterizing the Role of TREX2 Complex Members PCID2 and Centrin 2 in Nuclear Protein Export.”

“The best part about the conference was having the opportunity to be among so many brilliant people and witness the amazing science being done around the world,” said Mishler. “It was an honor to absorb knowledge from experts in the field and be surrounded by like-minded people that share the same passion for science.”

For more information about biology or molecular biology at Westminster College, visit here or contact Resendes at or (724) 946-7211.