2011 EBS symposium showcases research

EBS Symposium 2011

Portland, Ore -- The Cooley Science Center atrium was jam packed as graduate students and post-doctoral scientists presented their research posters. They were showcasing their work at OHSU's fifth annual EBS Research Symposium, held on March 11, 2011.

There were 30 posters presented at this year's symposium sponsored by the Division of Environmental & Biomolecular Systems. The presenters were comprised of 12 Masters Students, 15 Ph.D. students, and three post-doctoral scientists.

"Research posters are an important part of academic and scientific conferences, so learning how to create and present effective posters is an important tool for scientists," says Karen Watanabe, Ph.D., an EBS professor. "This symposium is one way we give students and post-docs the opportunity to present their research findings."

A panel of judges selected the best posters in three categories. First place in each category went to:

Melissa Gilbert, Masters student
Gilbert won first place in the Masters student division for her poster titled, "High Resolution In Situ Study of Nutrient Loading and Estuarine Response in the Columbia River." Nutrient inputs to the Columbia River estuary are difficult to quantify owing to the large tidal variability of nutrients within the estuary. Gilbert presented results from one of the first high resolution, in situ observational studies of nutrient loading and estuarine response. Her research showed that high resolution in situ nutrient data yields evidence for an overwhelming remineralization in the Columbia River fresh water tidal flats during the summer.

Kelly Chacon, Ph.D. student
Chacon won first place in the Ph.D. student division with her poster titled, "A Bewildering Purple Protein: Selenium labeling as a probe of metal transport in Thermus thermophilus CuA." Chacon is a part of the Blackburn lab that focuses on answering biological questions by using inorganic chemistry. Her work is centered upon using different types of spectroscopy to uncover the way copper binds to the CuA protein subunit in cytochrome c oxidase of Thermus thermophilus. Using a selenium-labeled version of this protein as a spectroscopic probe, she verified a novel Cu(II) intermediate of CuA by using three forms of spectroscopy, which included x-ray absorption spectroscopy. Her results will help to determine which proteins may load CuA with copper biologically.

Amrita Lama, Post-doctoral scientist
Lama won first place in the postdoctoral scientist division with her poster titled, "Elucidation of Molecular Determinants of Resistance to Antimicrobial Compounds in Gram-positive Bacteria." The increased prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) along with the emergence of community-acquired MRSA places heightened importance on investigations into the pathogenicity of this species variant. The emergence of MRSA resistant to the 'last resort' antibiotics has created an urgent need for the discovery of alternative antibiotics or novel antimicrobial agents. Lama's research described the preliminary characterization of an antimicrobial compound isolated from a natural isolate of a Bacillus pumilus strain that produces a strong anti-MRSA activity.