Honors College students present at National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Honors College students present at National Conference on Undergraduate Research
Rita Kassab presentation
Senior biomedical science major Rita Kassab presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Two Honors College students represented Oakland University at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which took place this month at the University of North Carolina-Ashville. 


Rita Kassab, a senior biomedical science major, presented on “Genome Complexity in the Exportome of Plasmodium falciparum.” She has worked under the mentorship of Dr. Fabia U. Battistuzzi, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Their in-depth analysis of (Haptoglobin-Related Proteins (HPRs) in P. falciparum is a first step toward the identification of potentially new candidate genes that can be targeted by anti-malaria drugs. In the fall of 2016, Kassab will attend Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. 


“I have worked with my amazing mentor since September 2014 and I will always remember Dr. Fabia as being the most patient, smartest and kindest professor I will ever meet,” Kassab said. “I am so thankful for my time in her lab and for the exciting results of our project.”


Junior biomedical, diagnostic, and Therapeutic Sciences student, Katie Aleck presented “The Effects of Bisphenol-S (BPS) on Estrogen Receptor Alpha in T-47D Breast Cancer Cells." Her study focused on the effects of BPS, alone and in combination with hormones and anti-hormones, on ERα expression in breast cancer cells, and delved into whether BPS is a suitable alternative to BPA in a variety of everyday products. Aleck is a research assistant in Dr. Sumit Dinda’s biochemistry/endocrinology laboratory. Her research project will continue over the summer and next school year while she looks at joint medical school and doctoral programs. Aleck plans to pursue a career in cancer research in the future.


“This experience has taught me so much and allowed me to pursue my passion of cancer research, early on, ensuring me that I am on the right path to achieving my goals in life,” Aleck said. “It was amazing to be able to present a project that I put so much effort into, over the past year, at a national conference surrounded by driven, like-minded individuals from all over the country."


More than 4,000 undergraduate students, from colleges and universities across the United States presented their research at this esteemed conference. NCUR is one of the oldest and most respected conferences held annually for the purpose of supporting and disseminating undergraduate research.

Rita Kassab and Katie Aleck
Katie Aleck and Rita Kassab