Five “K” Students Compete in Poster Presentation for ASBMB

Five Kalamazoo College students
Left to Right: Popli, Nagy, Diffenderfer, Parson, and McNamara

Kalamazoo College enjoyed a strong scientific presence at the Washington, D.C. meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). Associate Professor of Chemistry Laura Furge served as a judge in the 15th Annual Undergraduate Poster Competition, in which five “K” students competed against more than 200 other undergraduates from throughout the country.

Laura Diffenderfer ’11 presented a poster titled “Autodock as a method for predicting binding for substrates and inhibitors of human cytochrome P450 2D6,” based on a sliver of the research she’s conducted for the past two years in Furge’s lab. Diffenderfer plans to attend Wayne State Medical School this fall. Alyssa McNamara ’11, a four-year denizen in the lab of chemistry professor Regina Stevens-Truss, presented “Suramin discriminates between the calmodulin-binding sites of neuronal and inducible nitric oxide synthase.” She will work for the Schuler Family Foundation in Chicago before she enrolls in medical school in 2012.

Leslie Nagy ’09 and Diffenderfer presented “Mechanism-based inhibition of human cytochrome P450 2D6 by Schering 66712,” work recently accepted for publication in Drug Metabolism and Disposition. Nagy is completing a two-year appointment as a laboratory research associate in Furge’s lab.

Tanav Popli ’11 presented a poster based on his SIP work at University of California-San Francisco. His poster was titled “Tmtc4 interacts with C3G, Wntless, and Zfhx4: a yeast two-hybrid trap for proteins associated with development of the corpus callosum.” Tanov plans to work in a laboratory after graduation and then apply for an M.D./Ph.D. program.

Emily Parson ’11 presented a poster titled “Characterization of a real time PCR assay for the detection and quantification of Plasmodium malariae parasites.” She did her SIP, which was based in part on her study abroad experience in Kenya, at the Walter Reed U.S. Army Medical Research Unit in Washington, D.C. After she graduates this spring, Emily will return to Walter Reed to continue research in related areas.

“Attendance at a national meeting is a tremendous opportunity for students to hear and meet leading scientists, to see how scientists share ideas with each other, and to see how scientific research accumulates and allows for the formation of new hypotheses,” said Furge.

And it’s an opportunity that depends on philanthropy. Student travel to this meeting was supported by a grant to “K” from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Popli received a travel award from the Undergraduate Affiliation Network of Kalamazoo College headed by Stevens-Truss. Stevens-Truss organized the first annual ASBMB workshop titled: “Fostering Partnerships Between Colleges/Universities and Junior High School Teachers,” and she noted that it got off the ground despite her absence due to and airline grounding. “I was disappointed to miss the workshop when my flight was grounded in Kalamazoo,” said Stevens-Truss. “But I’m glad the idea is now a successful reality.”

The second offering of the workshop will occur next April in San Diego.