Mansfield Biology students present research at Statewide STEM Conference

MANSFIELD, PA –  Two Mansfield University biology majors attended and presented research at the 5th Annual Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Undergraduate Research Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)  held at Millersville University on Saturday, October 27th. David DeGaramo (senior from Wyalusing, PA, Cell and Molecular Biology) and Catherine Troutman (junior from Klingerstown, PA, Cell and Molecular Biology) presented their original research poster titled “Tumor cell and fibroblast interactions in vitro”. Dr. Kristen Long, from the Department of Biology, accompanied the students.

DeGaramo and Troutman’s project was developed as a group research project for their Molecular Biology Course, which was taught by Dr. Long this past spring semester. Students in the course performed literature searches and devised a project of their choosing. DeGaramo and Troutman’s project investigated how tumor cells influence fibroblast (cells found within connective tissues and solid tumors) activity and vice versa. “It was nice being able to pick our own project. We developed it ourselves, and we were therefore motivated to invest our time and effort into it. It was much more engaging than just learning techniques,” Ms. Troutman said. According to Mr. DeGaramo, “This research project allowed us to apply advanced laboratory techniques to our own research ideas. It was particularly exciting to unravel the complexity of solid tumors and reveal the intricate interactions they have with their environment.”

The Mansfield students were one of 43 abstracts (16 oral presentations and 27 poster presentations) at the conference. Of the 14 PASSHE Universities, 11 were in attendance. Disciplines spanned a wide range and included: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Sociology. In all, the conference was a great opportunity for our young scientists to explore active research outside of their specific field of Biology. Mr. DeGaramo adds, “It was refreshing to listen to, and learn from, other undergraduate researchers about advancements in their respective field. It was beneficial to be exposed to different styles of presenting for future reference.” Ms. Troutman concludes, “It was great to see presentations on projects outside of just Biology. For example, it was exciting to see the application of mathematics to biological problems.”