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Undergraduate researcher wins award

Claire Fenimore
March 11, 2015

Courtesy Sowda Ahmed

Sowda Ahmed, an undergraduate researcher working in the lab of Mark Schleiss, MD, Department of Pediatrics, was recently recognized at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM for her research on the development of a stable cytomegalovirus (CMV). A sophomore majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, Ahmed was chosen to present her research in the undergraduate biological sciences category. She was awarded second place for her poster presentation, which took place on February 20, 2015.

The ERN Conference in STEM is a joint effort of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation. The conference serves as an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students participating in NSF programs to gain experience in communicating about scientific research. The goal is to help these students better understand how to prepare for science careers in a global workforce. Along with the presentation of student research, the conference features various workshops and activities to help students develop the skills necessary to be successful in a career in research. This year’s conference took place from February 19-21 in Washington, D.C.

Ahmed’s entry in the conference focused on the work she has done with Schleiss in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research. Ahmed developed the green virus necessary to create a stable, green fluorescent protein-tagged guinea pig CMV. CMV is a common virus that can lead to numerous health issues, including seizures and pneumonia, which is particularly dangerous for people with weak immune systems. She and her team will be using the GFP-tagged CMV for future experiments to study hearing loss due to congenital CMV infection.

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