Student Poster Days Showcase Young Researchers

By Chris Worthington, Staff Writer; photos by Marie Haughey, Staff Writer
Students interact at the 2017 Student Poster Day event.

Student interns presented their research to the NCI at Frederick community during the annual Student Poster Days event, held in the Building 549 lobby and the Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF) atrium over two days.

The event highlights research being done by Werner H. Kirsten and Summer Intern Program students at the NCI at Frederick. The Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program is designed for high school seniors, while the Summer Intern Program caters to undergraduate and graduate students on summer break.

The poster day event helps fulfill a semester requirement—but more importantly, it is an opportunity for students to interact with their peers as well as scientists and researchers. For presenters and attendees alike, the event showcases the interdisciplinary research taking place at the NCI at Frederick.

“This is a great way to allow interns to present their research to people as high up as Ph.D.s and [principal investigators],” said Elijah Edmondson, Ph.D., DVM, core pathologist with the Laboratory Animal Sciences Program at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Students had two opportunities to present their work—first at the poster blitz, a series of five-to-ten-minute presentations in front of a seated audience, and then during the poster sessions, where posters are put on display and attendees can chat with the students about their research.

A total of 11 students participated in the poster blitz on day one, while four presented at the ATRF on day two. Over three dozen students, including those who participated in the poster blitz, presented their research during the poster sessions.

Walter Hubert, Ph.D., scientific advisor for the internship program, Office of Scientific Operations, said, “It’s an inspiration and a validation of my own job to stimulate their interest in science. Sometimes you see unique approaches, and it makes you feel good [about] where we are investing.”

Hubert’s sentiments were echoed by many other attendees.

“Just talking to the students and seeing what they’ve done is refreshing and invigorating,” said David Heimbrook, Ph.D., president, Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. “It’s a really great program. The student programs are the most fun.”

The projects presented at the Poster Days ran the gamut from photoactivatable nanoparticles to RAS activation pathways to high-resolution 3D electron microscopy images presented through a virtual reality headset.

“I think [the internship program] is a great opportunity for students around the country to come to Maryland and share their research,” said Robin Raley, who is interning in the Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Signaling. “I’ve met some interesting people who are into the same fields of study—science, its implications, and health medicine—as me.” Raley presented a poster on evaluating the role of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta in the endoplasmic reticulum stress response of breast cancer cells.

Marlee Dinterman, who is completing her third internship at NCI, this one as part of the Cancer Research Technology Program, said, “It’s a great opportunity because of the connections you get to make and the chance you get to explore your interests.” Dinterman’s poster covered inter-donor variability in interleukin-8 secretion in response to PEGylated liposomes.

Though the event took place during lunch, nobody went hungry. All of the registered participants were treated to sandwiches from Subway, and the Recreation and Welfare Club served liquid nitrogen ice cream—a popular NCI at Frederick summer treat—during the sessions in the Building 549 lobby.

As Kiley Duncan, an intern at the Center for Molecular Microscopy, concluded, “It’s been an awesome experience.”

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