Mansfield University Biology students excel at research conferences

(L-R) Cody McUmber, Caitlin Beauduy, Shaelyn Marx, Brittney Atkins, Samantha Rutledge.

MANSFIELD, Pa. – While the 2020-21 academic year brought unprecedented changes and challenges, the research happening inside Mansfield University’s Grant Science Center never stopped.

Throughout the year, students in the Biology program within the Department of Natural Sciences continued working on Mansfield University-supported research projects. Several students presented their work at state and national conferences.

In April, six Mansfield University Biology students presented their original research projects at the 52nd Annual Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists meeting at Shippensburg University via Zoom. The meeting drew nearly 50 research presentations by students across the PASSHE system.

Platform presentations were given by Caitlin Beauduy (New Cumberland, Pa.), mentored by Dr. Kristen Long, and Cody McUmber (Bath, N.Y.), mentored by Dr. Elaine Farkas and Dr. Long, in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category; and Samantha Rutledge (Mansfield, Pa.), mentored by Dr. Leslie Clifford, in the Ecology and Organismal Biology category.

Mini-presentations of ongoing research were presented in Cellular and Molecular Biology by Kristen Covington (Abington, Pa.), mentored by Dr. Jeanne Kagle; as well as Brittney Atkins (Hamburg, Pa.) and Shaelyn Marx (Stroudsburg, Pa.), both mentored by Dr. Long.

Awards were given to the first and second place presenters per presentation type and category, with a total of four awards given in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology and a total of six awards given in the category of Ecology and Organismal Biology.

Three Mansfield University students won awards in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology: 1st place to McUmber for his presentation on “Mechanisms of liver damage after oral consumption of microplastics,” and 2nd place to Beauduy for her presentation on “T-cell Presence During Tumor Development Influences Tumor Phenotype and Responsiveness to Therapy” in the platform presentation category; and 2nd place to Atkins for her mini-presentation on “Cytotoxic effects of LipoCurc on malignant and nonmalignant cells in vitro.” One Mansfield University student won an award in the category of Ecology and Organismal Biology: 2nd place to Rutledge for her platform presentation on “Bird-brained or bodily aware: Are chicks capable of recognizing the limitations of their own body’s dimensions when assessing holes of different dimensions?” Rutledge was also recognized as Mansfield’s Outstanding Biology Student.

Last semester, Beauduy and McUmber also presented their Mansfield-supported research at the 2nd Annual Developmental Biology New York Conference held in Ithaca, N.Y. (virtually). The conference included nearly 40 student presenters, at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels, from local through international universities.

Beauduy participated in the poster presentation session, while McUmber participated in the platform presentation session. The students also presented their research at the Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity Conference sponsored by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, hosted virtually by Eastern Connecticut State University.

Students in the Mansfield University Biology program complete an independent research project as part of their degree requirements. Throughout a series of courses, students are trained on how to properly design, conduct, and present biological research. These requirements allow students to gain first-hand training in a sub-discipline of Biology and teach/reinforce fundamental concepts by bringing those concepts to life.

For more information about ongoing research projects or to learn more about the Biology program at Mansfield University, visit