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Chayna Anderson wins 1st place at 20th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences

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Chayna Anderson

October 31, 2017 – Chayna Anderson, an undergraduate student in the Biochemistry andMolecular Biology Department majoring in Forensic Science, earned a first place finish at the 20th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences for her poster entitled “HRVC Induces PI4P Synthesis by Hijacking the Arf1-GBF1 Pathway”.  The event was held on October 14, 2017 on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

The Symposium seeks to display the diverse array of student-committed endeavors and foster the communication of their relevant novel results and concepts. The event exclusively features undergraduate research in all areas of chemistry, biology, and biochemistry with the understanding that progress at the chemical and biological interface requires cross-fertilization from the broadest possible spectrum of these disciplines.  The event featured two poster sessions and posters were judged by panels of participating mentors and other qualified attendees.  Judges ranked first and second place posters in each category with non-financial awards presented at the event’s end.

Anderson, an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Craig Cameron’s lab, takes part in a program at Penn State called the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP). SROP is an eight-week research program designed to interest talented undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in academic careers and to enhance their preparation for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors. In addition to her research experience, Anderson was presented with opportunities to attend professional development workshops, seminars, field trips, and social activities.  Dr. Cameron encouraged Anderson to take part in the UMBC Symposium so that she could have the added experience of presenting a poster at a major event.

Anderson has been working in Dr. Cameron’s lab since the start of the Fall 2016 semester. The goal of the Cameron Lab is to develop strategies for the treatment and prevention of viral infections, by understanding their intrinsic molecular mechanisms.  Anderson’s work in the lab focuses on the cell biology implications of this goal.  Positive stranded RNA viruses derange host membranes to replicate their genome which in turn facilitates infection. Anderson specifically performs experiments that aim to understand these replication mechanisms and their relation to membrane derangement. Current work in the lab has focused primarily on poliovirus as a model, however over the summer, Anderson began working with Human Rhinovirus Type C (also known as HRV-C), a different virus from the same family. HRV-C is known to cause the common cold, but type C in particular is known to exacerbate respiratory illnesses in children.  Anderson’s current aim is to understand if HRV-C employs similar mechanisms than those observed in the context of poliovirus.

Anderson credits her studies as a Forensic Science student coupled with her experience in a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) lab as making her a more well-rounded scientist.  She is not focused in just one discipline and is able to understand a lot of things in different areas.  “I try to bridge the gap between the two and being in Forensics and in a BMB lab allows me to try different things and study different areas.  I can take the things I learn in my lab and apply them to my Forensic classes and vice versa.”

Anderson also credits her involvement in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program with providing her many opportunities to excel.  The program is designed to help academically talented students from traditionally underserved backgrounds reach their potential by earning a doctoral degree.  Anderson plans on doing just that; earning a Ph.D.  After graduation she plans to attend graduate school in a genetics and genomics program and her overall goal is to someday work as a DNA Analyst for the FBI.

Anderson is currently a Junior at Penn State and plans on continuing her work in the Cameron Lab throughout the duration of her time as an undergraduate.