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Ted Buchanan

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 Tulane Empowers

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‘Teachers make good neighbors’
A 2011 business and political science graduate is using his nonprofit organization to rebuild homes for educators in New Orleans.
 
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Tulane student-scientists lead breakthrough discoveries

The School of Science and Engineering's event  allows students to illustrate their latest research outcomes on paper posters affixed to portable walls. 

poster session
Christine Faust Witty (Ph.D., Neuroscience) won first place for her study on the effects of estrogen on learning and memory. 

 

May 2, 2012

Michael Ramos
mcramos@tulane.edu   

From environmental protection to health and well-being, projects presented at the recent Tulane University School of Science and Engineering poster session tackled a wide range of issues. The annual event, held at the Lavin-Bernick Center on April 12, allows students to illustrate their latest research outcomes on paper posters affixed to portable walls.   

First-place winner Christine Faust Witty (Ph.D., Neuroscience) studied the effects of estrogen on learning and memory. Tests on rats showed that short-term prior exposure to the sex hormone estradiol in mid-life enhances cognition in old age, a finding with major implications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Witty’s results suggested the mechanisms which make this possible.

Danielle Fassler (B.S., Neuroscience), whose research used stem cells to facilitate bone regeneration, also received a blue ribbon. For people active before needing an amputation, even small amounts of bone regeneration can change their prosthetic, giving them increased mobility and a better quality of life, she said.   

“We’re trying to make that possible,” Fassler said.   

Inspired by recent events, second place-winner David Cutting (B.S.E., Chemical Engineering) working in the Pesika Lab led a team that tested whether a uniform surface keeps oil dispersants from sticking to plants. Their project sought to create a win-win situation for environmentalists and industry.   

“This keeps oil out of vegetation and also may eventually allow oil companies to get their oil back in the event of a spill,” said Cutting.   

Other students travelled along the Gulf Coast to make breakthrough discoveries, such as Kali Slavik (B.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), whose study of shark teeth from the middle Miocene epoch in Gainesville, Fla. won third place.   

“A lot of these species haven’t been identified from Gainesville before because their teeth are so small, but I actually found one species that might be new,” she said.   

Other winners included graduate students Juhee Haam (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology), second, and Nicole Michel (Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), third. Zhixiong Shen took home first place in the post-doctoral category.   

The Dean of the School of Science and Engineering Awards for Excellence in Research and Presentation were awarded to Emma Pineda (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering) in the graduate student category and Michael Coletti (B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering) in the undergraduate category at the Health Sciences Research Days poster session held on April 11 at the Tulane downtown campus.

Dr. Ken Muneoka, the John L. and Mary Wright Ebaugh Chair in Science and Engineering, who specializes in limb regeneration, reflected on the significance of the school’s special day. He said the quality of research undertaken by Tulane student-scientists has steadily increased since Hurricane Katrina.   

“Many of our faculty members are internationally known, and it’s evident in the quality of the science our students are trained to produce,” said Muneoka.   

Michael Ramos is a senior writer in the Office of Development Writing.

 

 

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