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March 23, 2009

ULM biology undergraduates take top honors at state science meeting

Two undergraduate biology students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe took top honors at the annual Louisiana Academy of Sciences meeting held at Southeastern Louisiana University on Feb. 27.

Nick Keaton, 19, a sophomore undergraduate researcher in Assistant Biology Professor Chris Gissendanner’s lab, won first place in the poster competition, while Elise Lewis, an undergraduate research student in Professor Russ Minton’s lab placed third.

Keaton’s research focus involves identifying novel genes in organ development and is funded through the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research program. His award-winning poster is titled “A C. elegans anillin is required for post-embryonic cytokinesis and cell morphology.”

Keaton’s mentor is Gissendanner, who has been at ULM for the past five years and has an active molecular biology research laboratory.

“Nick is a very talented undergraduate researcher,” said Gissendanner.

Lewis, 21, from Rayne, is a senior, majoring in biology. She plans on attending graduate school at the University of Southern California. Lewis’ research in Minton’s lab is on the morphological changes observed in the snail, Elimia potosiensis, with changes in geography. Her work is also funded through the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research program.

The title of her poster is “Plastic springs: Abiotic effects on freshwater snail shell shape.” Minton, a six-year veteran of ULM has actively researched the evolution and natural history of freshwater snails in northeast Louisiana and Arkansas with his undergraduate and graduate research students.

“I’m extremely proud of Elise and her accomplishments,” said Minton.

For further information about this article or the biology program at ULM, please contact the Biology department at 318-342-1790 or

For information about the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research program please contact Ann Findley at 318-342-1817 or or Sami Recoulley at 318-342-1885 or

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