OHSU students and postdoctoral fellow take honors at symposium

03/19/13  Portland, Ore.

OHSU graduate students Anthony Rigoni, Cierra Birch, Kelly Chacon, and postdoctoral fellow Bernadette Henares garnered top awards at this years research symposium put on by the Institute of Environment Health and Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems.

The 7th annual research symposium took place on March 15, 2013 at OHSU’s Walker Road Campus. The event showcased a wide range of research from nineteen graduate students and four postdoctoral fellows.

“The symposium provides students with an excellent opportunity to present their findings to the OHSU community,” said Karen Watanabe, Ph.D., EBS faculty member and coordinator of the event.

This year there were four categories of presenters: master’s student, new doctoral student, advanced doctoral student, and postdoctoral fellow. The twelve judges evaluated the student presentations based on the criteria of quality, clarity, organization, and the presenter’s ability to communicate the research.

Watanabe said the poster presentations this year were all outstanding and that made it challenging for the judges to select the best.

The winner in the master’s student category was Anthony Rigoni, a biogeochemistry and molecular biology student in the lab of Dr. Bradley Tebo. He was excited to get feedback on his research into culturing prokaryotes from fumarolic ice caves on Mt. Erebus in Antarctica.

“Possibly the most benefit comes in the form of comments from the audience who might cause a sudden inspiration for a difficult problem in the lab or new questions to be asked,” Rigoni said.

Kelly Chacon, a biochemistry doctoral student in the lab of Dr. Ninian Blackburn, was the winner in the advanced doctoral student category. While this wasn’t her first time winning an award at the symposium, she believes it is an important part of her educational experience at OHSU.

“The challenge of translating the science I do to a diverse audience gives me valuable “think on my feet” presentation skills,” Chacon said. “This experience is vital for me to convey my work to funding agencies, potential hiring committees, and the general public.”

The following are the 2013 IEH-EBS Research Symposium winners:

Anthony Rigoni

Best Master’s Student Poster

Anthony Rigoni
Title: “Culturing prokaryotes from fumarolic ice caves on Mt. Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica”
Advisor: Brad Tebo, Ph.D.
Cierra Birch

Best New Doctoral Student (1-2 years) Poster

Cierra Birch
Title: “Identification and investigation of the genes in Bacillus anthracis that are activated by oxidative stress global regulator Spx”
Advisor: Peter Zuber, Ph.D.
Kelly Chacon

Best Advanced Doctoral Student (3+years) Poster

Kelly Chacon
Title: “Tracking the elusive cuprous ion: the spectroscopic study of metal transfer from PCuAC to CuA in Thermus thermophilus
Advisor: Ninian Blackburn, Ph.D.
Bernadette Henares

Best Postdoctoral Fellow Poster

Bernadette Henares, Ph.D.
Title: “Discovery of a nitric oxide responsive quorum sensing circuit in Vibrio harveyi
Advisor: Michiko Nakano, Ph.D.