RIC biology students win regional awards

Posted 12/31/13

PROVIDENCE – Biology students at Rhode Island College took home four of 10 competitive awards for scientific research at the seventh annual New England Science Public-Biology New England South regional meeting, held earlier this month at Roger Williams University.

In addition to the participants from RIC and RWU, the gathering of more than 300 competitors included students from Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, Bryant University, Providence College, Salve Regina University, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Sea Education Association. Research faculty and educators from across southern New England also attended the event, designed to promote scientific research and build networking among research universities and colleges.

The four award-winning RIC students – juniors Sarah Bilida and Megan Warburton and seniors Sara Moore and Leah Smith – won recognition for their poster presentations explaining the scientific approach, relevance and potential applications of their undergraduate research.

“It’s thrilling to see our students reach such great heights, and it is because of the fantastic mentorship of our faculty,” said Ronald Pitt, vice president for academic affairs at RIC.

Bilida worked with Assistant Professor Deborah Britt on a project that studied DNA repair processes to explore how yeast plays a role in reconnecting broken DNA ends.

Smith’s project, supervised by Assistant Professor Breea Govenar, studied the diet of a type of flattened snail living near warm-water vents on the ocean floor. Moore also worked with Govenar on her project measuring the impact of temperature changes on salt-marsh mussels, and joined Warburton on a second project examining the role of filter-feeding specimens in Rhode Island’s marine ecosystem, under the guidance of Professor Thomas Meedel.

“Overall, attending the conference was a great experience to meet with scientists from across Southern New England and to hear about the different ongoing research projects,” said Smith. “It was exciting to share the research we do here at Rhode Island College with other members of the scientific community and to have our lab work recognized.”

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