The majority of the NCHC’s 900 member institutions participated in the conference. Students from honors programs and colleges nationwide submitted posters in nine categories.
The winner in the business, engineering and computer science category was Lily Deng, a junior University Honors Program and biomedical engineering major mentored by Ho-Wook Jun, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, whose presentation was titled “Crosstalk Between Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells on a Peptide Amphiphile Scaffold.”
The co-winners in the natural sciences and mathematics category were Ranjani Ponnazhagan, a junior University Honors Program neuroscience major mentored by David Standaert, M.D., chairman of the Department of Neurology, whose presentation was titled “Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 Positive Allosteric Modulators Attenuate LPS-Induced Inflammation in Microglia Cells”; and John Decker, a junior University Honors Program neuroscience major mentored by Paul Gamlin, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, whose presentation was titled “Voluntary Eye-Movements to Cyclopean, Monocularly Invisible Targets.”
Deng and Ponnazhagan are also part of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program.
“It is quite an achievement for an honors program or college to have a student winner in any of the nine categories and an extremely rare event for a program or school to have multiple winners,” said Michael Sloane, Ph.D., director of UHP. Each poster presentation was judged by a faculty member, typically an honors director or dean from honors colleges and programs throughout the United States and abroad.
The UAB contingent included 30 honors students as well as faculty and staff from the Honors College and its specialized programs.
“The conference was a wonderful opportunity for our honors students to present their research in a national forum and interact with other honors students from across the country,” said Honors College Dean Shannon Blanton, Ph.D. “We are extremely proud of their achievements and delighted that such accomplished students represent UAB.”