MEDIA: Mary Sánchez Lanier, WSU Assistant Vice Provost, 509-335-2320, sanchez@wsu.edu

Kay Brothers, Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, 509-335-9376, brothers@vetmed.wsu.edu

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University undergraduates Marleny Garcia, Carlie Knox, and Collin Warrick won national awards for outstanding presentations at the 2016 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) Nov. 12 in Tampa, Fla.

ABRCMS is one of the largest professional conferences for underrepresented minority students, military veterans, and persons with disabilities; students present work they have done in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. It is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This year, 1,850 students were chosen to present research in 12 scientific disciplines, attend workshops, and meet representatives from universities and businesses. Award winners received cash prizes and special acknowledgements at a closing dinner. Photo of Warrick, Knox, and Garcia posing with their awards

Research Topics

A top winner in the ABRCMS cell biology category, Garcia is a senior zoology and pre-medicine major from Mattawa, Wash. Her research poster is titled, “Kallikreins in Female Reproductive Tract: New Players in Semen Liquefaction.” Garcia works in the reproductive biology lab of faculty mentor Wipawee “Joy” Winuthayanon, assistant professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences and Center for Reproductive Biology. The lab focuses on evaluating hormonal regulation in the oviduct and uterus during fertilization, pre-implantation embryo development, and embryo transport using genetically engineered animal models.

Both Knox and Warrick were top awardees in the ABRCMS neuroscience category.

Knox is a senior neuroscience and psychology major from Federal Way. The title of her poster is “Sex Differences in Opioid-cannabinoid interactions on chronic inflammatory pain,” which she investigates in the lab of Rebecca Craft, professor in the Dept. of Psychology. The Craft lab seeks to determine how sex hormones such as testosterone and estradiol modulate pain, mood, and the therapeutic and side-effects of psychoactive drugs such as opioids and cannabinoids. The clinical applications of this work are: the development of sex-specific guidelines for use of psychotherapeutic and analgesic medications; and improved prevention and treatment of sex hormone-mediated pain and depression.

Warrick is a junior neuroscience major from Tacoma. His research is titled, “Involvement of the Endogenous Cannabinoid System in the Prefrontal Cortex with Respect to Cognitive Flexibility.” Warrick’s faculty mentor is Ryan McLaughlin, assistant professor in Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience. McLaughlin studies the neurobiological underpinnings of stress and the mechanisms by which these factors influence the brain and behavior, and the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in the emotional and neurobiological responses to stressful and aversive stimuli.

WSU Representation at ABRCMS

The three award winners were among a total of six WSU undergraduate students—plus a Maine college student who participated in a summer research program at WSU—accepted to present posters at ABRCMS, noted Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost and School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB) clinical associate professor. She frequently is a judge at this national conference.

“Each student representing us at ABRCMS did an exceptional job preparing for and then making their research presentations at this conference for scientists,” said Sánchez Lanier. “Our university can be very proud of all of them.”

The additional presenters are: Haley Delgado, a senior biology major and psychology minor from Othello; Jessica Puente Arroyo, a senior microbiology major and Spanish minor from Tonasket; and Terrell Ware, a senior biology major from Tacoma. Jade Donaldson, from Maine’s Bates College, presented on research conducted at WSU in a College of Veterinary Medicine summer program.

Sánchez Lanier accompanied the students to the Florida conference, along with Kay Brothers, clinical assistant professor and graduate umbrella coordinator for the Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences, and Hector Aguilar-Carreno, associate professor in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School of Global Animal Health and affiliate faculty member in SMB and the Dept. of Chemistry.

Support for Students’ Travel

Garcia, Knox, and Warrick received awards from the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of WSU Undergraduate Education, to help cover the costs of their trip to the Tampa conference.