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ULM biology students spend summer in prestigious research programs

Published September 03, 2014

Seven undergraduate students studying biology in the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s School of Sciences are gaining attention for their work as part of grant-funded research programs across the state.

Students Kyle Gresham and Grant Gallien, both of West Monroe, presented the results of their research at a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) SEA-Phages Symposium. The symposium was held at the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va.

During the symposium, the students presented a poster detailing their groundbreaking discovery of a previously unidentified bacteriophage—a type of virus that infects bacteria cells.

“It was found by simply taking a small soil sample from under a bridge,” said Gresham. “I then had the opportunity to give this bacteriophage a name. Since it came from under a bridge, I decided it should be named Hobo.”

Meanwhile, biology students Adebanjo Adedoja of Lagos, Siddhartha Dhakal of Kathmandu, Similoluwa Ogundare of Garki, Kristina Ok of Monroe, and Nabin Timilsina of Kathmandu took part in a summer research program at two locations in Louisiana.

Adedoja and Ok pursued research activities at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, and Dhakal, Ogundare, and Timilsina took part in laboratory efforts on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

Funding for the pair of programs comes from a National Institutes of Health program and Louisiana Biomedical Research Network (LBRN) Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Ok says the research offered her a real-world look at the work she hopes to be doing when she graduates from ULM.

“As a biology major, I crave research experience so LBRN gave me the opportunity to gain that exposure in research,” Ok says. “I enjoy the hands-on aspect and responsibility in the lab, but research also taught me valuable life lessons, such as the path to success is not always straight and that patience is very important.”

For more information on ULM biology, contact Dr. Ann Findley at 318-342-1817 or at afindley@ulm.edu