Biology Student Wins Prestigious National Research Award
PLATTSBURGH, NY __ At most colleges and universities in the United States, undergraduate
research is a rare phenomenon. However, at the State University of New York College
at Plattsburgh, undergraduate research isn't rare at all, and in some areas of study,
it's the norm.
SUNY Plattsburgh offers its students many opportunities to conduct research in major areas of study. Their research may include traveling to national conferences, working on nationally-funded research projects one-on-one with award-winning faculty and/or participating in internships.
Senior Chrissa Wright, a biochemistry and biology double major from Bernhards Bay, N.Y., recently traveled to the National Association for Biology Teachers (NABT) annual conference in Albuquerque, N.M., to present her research on paramecium and the hemoglobin gene. Her poster presentation, which was in competition with other college students from across the country, was awarded the NABT First Place Student Undergraduate Research Poster Award. She was also awarded data analyzing computer software and probes by Vernier, a biotech company, for the genetics lab at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Wright, under the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Elwess, associate professor of biological sciences, has been researching paramecium and the hemoglobin gene for the last three semesters. She has done extensive research on the paramecium, which is a single-celled organism.
Wright and Elwess used the paramecium as a model system to understand why a single celled organism would carry a hemoglobin gene, which are mainly seen in the red blood cells of multi-cellular organisms, such as human beings.
Elwess said that Wright excels in her work due to her drive for success and the opportunities provided by the College for undergraduate research.
"Chrissa is a very hard working individual; she has a lot of discipline and dedication to her research," said Elwess.
Wright said that she enjoys working with Elwess and is thankful for the research opportunities at SUNY Plattsburgh.
"Small class sizes and one-on-one connections with the professors put me ahead," said Wright, who transferred from SUNY Buffalo because she felt that SUNY Plattsburgh provides more opportunities for undergraduate students.
"My work would not have been able to be completed if SUNY Plattsburgh didn't have equipment and opportunities that it has to offer to its students," she said. "My research is funded by grants from the Dean's Office and travel grants from the College Auxiliary Services." In addition, she has national funding from Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society.
Wright loves working on her research. She says that her projects have supplemented her regular class work and have allowed for more creative thinking. She hopes to finish her current research project before she graduates in May 2007 and write a research article for publication in a scientific journal.
After graduation, Wright is planning on getting her doctorate degree in neuroscience with a focus in genetics. She is currently applying to several top programs in the country, including Duke University, University of Connecticut and University of Vermont.
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