Biology Department Celebrates Students' Success

Students in the Department of Biological Sciences have brought recognition to FIU through academic achievement both locally and nationally.

The fourteenth annual Biomedical and Comparative Immunology Symposium held in March adressed recent advances in understanding of diverse biological systems and phenomena, and featured faculty and student presentations.

In the "Outstanding Scientific Oral Presentations" category, Deepak Balasubramanian, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Kalai Mathee, took first place and Annia Mesa, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Rene Herrera, took second. In the "Outstanding Scientific Poster Presentation" category, Deannys Batista, a Biological Sciences major under Dr. Lidia Kos, took first place and Javier Pino, also a Biological Sciences major under Dr. Lidia Kos, took second.

Dinorah Chacin and Christopher Abin, two recent graduates of the Department of Biological Sciences and MBRS RISE fellows were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Ms. Dinorah Chacin, who as an undergraduate conducted research for two years in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Layman, is presently in her first year of graduate studies at the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. Mr. Christopher Abin, who as an undergraduate conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Dee Mills, is presently a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia.

Also from the laboratory of Dr. Dee Mills, Ms. Natalie Damaso has recently received a McNair graduate fellowship. As an undergraduate McNair scholar, Damaso did research in the laboratory of John Berry in the Marine Sciences Program. She is currently a graduate student in the combined Master of Science in Forensic Science Ph.D. program.

QBIC scholars have brought attention to their program, department, and university this semester:

Bryan Dewsbury, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. James Fourqurean's lab, QBIC Head TA, and a strong undergraduate mentor, was one of twenty applicants selected as a 2012 American Society for Microbiology Biology Scholars Assessment Resident. Dewsbury will begin his residency with the Measuring Student Learning Institute at ASM Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Aneysis Gonzalez, QBIC Scholar and Biological Sciences major, has been selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a participant in the extremely competitive 2012 Exceptional Research Opportunities program (EXROP). Gonzalez will spend the summer at Stanford working with Dr. Thomas Sudhof. EXROP links the resources of HHMI's Science and Grants programs to provide selected undergraduate students with outstanding summer research experiences that encourage them to pursue careers in academic science.

Alana Van Dervort, QBIC Senior Scholar, MARC U*STAR Fellow in Dr. Stanislaw Wnuk's lab, and 2011 Howard Hughes EXROP student, has earned the 2012 Leon and Marta Cuervo Prize for outstanding academic achievement by a senior student in Biological Sciences at FIU. Van Dervort distinguished herself from hundreds of her fellow Biological Sciences graduates via stellar curricular achievements, research accomplishments, and fellowships earned.

Finally, Paulo Olivas, FIU graduate and current postdoc in Dr. Steven Oberbauer's lab, has been awarded a competitive National Science Foundation Postdoc Fellowship. Olivas will be based at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden working with Dr. Ken Feeley conducting experimental warming on Peruvian high elevation vegetation.

Congratulations to the students and faculty that have done such a fantastic job of representing FIU and the Department of Biological Sciences.