SPUR interns win national research awards

SAN JOSE, Calif. — (Nov. 10, 2012) — Eight interns from the 2012 University of Oregon Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) received national research awards at the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in San Jose.

A record 20 interns from SPUR 2012 made the trip to San Jose to present research at a conference attended by more than 2,000 students from all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Prior to 2012, five SPUR scholars had received ABRCMS achievement awards since SPUR’s inception in 1992.

SPUR provides immersion into research for promising scholars, offering closely mentored, hands-on research training in cutting-edge scientific investigation. SPUR aims to enhance career opportunities for students who would benefit from the rigorous program and who might not otherwise have such opportunities, thereby changing the face of the next generation of scientists.

The program focuses on scholars visiting the UO from other universities, although UO students also participate. The students who received achievement awards include:

Jennifer Panlilio, a biology and marine science major at the University of Miami, who presented “Identifying new Protein Partners Interacting with the Usher Protein Complex.” She worked in the lab of Professor Monte Westerfield (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Neuroscience) and was mentored by Aurélie Clément, a postdoctoral research associate. Panlilio received an award in developmental biology and an interdisciplinary research award.


Adam Contreras, a biochemistry major at Texas State University, who presented “The Role of miR-199 and miR-214 in Craniofacial Development and Palatogenesis,” his investigation in the lab of Professor John Postlethwait (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Neuroscience), under the mentorship of Thomas Desvignes. Contreras’s award was in developmental biology.



Elisabeth Dewailly, a sophomore at Harvard University, who presented “Using Conventionally Reared and Germ Free Cag A and Relish Mutants to Assay Rates of Cell Proliferation in the Intestinal Epithelium of Drosophila Melanogaster.” Dewailly worked in the lab of Professor Karen Guillemin (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Molecular Biology) and was mentored by postdoctoral fellow, Allison Banse. Banse, who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard, is a SPUR alumnus from 2004. Guillemin is director of the UO META Center for Systems Biology. Dewailly’s award was in microbiology.


Tera Johnson, an environmental science major at Skidmore College, who presented “Temperature and Precipitation Effects on the Fitness and Growth of Range-Limited Native Prairie Species in the Pacific Northwest.” Johnson worked in the lab of Professor Scott Bridgham (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Ecology and Evolution), and was mentored by Laurel Pfeifer-Meister. Her award was in chemistry.



Opher Kornfeld, a UO biochemistry major, who presented “The Effect of Mutations on the Rpb2 Subunit of RNA Polymerase II on Alternative Polyadenylation Site Selection,” part of his continuing work in the lab of Professor Diane Hawley (UO Department of Chemistry and Institute of Molecular Biology). His award was in biochemistry; Kornfeld is also a Goldwater scholar.


Zachary Cartwright, a New Mexico State University biochemistry major, who presented “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Skeletal Muscle during Total Knee Arthroplasty.” Cartwright conducted his research in the lab of Professor Hans Dreyer (UO Department of Human Physiology) and was mentored by Austin Hocker. His award was in physiology.




Yovanni Mojica, a human biology major at the University of California, San Diego, who won an award in public health for “Genetic Analysis of the Role of Permeability-Glycoprotein Family Members in Caenorhabditis Elegans to Determine Resistance Against the Anthelmintincs Ivermectin and Levamisole.” Mojica worked in the lab of Professor Janis Weeks (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Neuroscience) and he was mentored by research associate Stephen Banse.



Jordan Harbin, a California Polytechnic psychology major, who presented “Adult OPC Re-activation and the Ability to Induce Gliomagenesis.” Jordan conducted research in the lab of Professor Hui Zong (UO Department of Biology and Institute of Molecular Biology) and she was mentored by Rui Galvao. Her award was in cancer biology.

Information about SPUR can be found at spur.uoregon.edu.