Mansfield University biology students present work at research conferences

Six students standing outside on stairs holding the railing
(L-R) Kassidy Wood, Shaelyn Marx, Dain Becker, James Esposito, Lauren Griffith, and Carly Root

MANSFIELD, Pa. – The full return of students to campus for the 2021-22 academic year brought back the excitement of student-based research at Mansfield University’s Grant Science Center. Junior and senior students in the biology program, within the Department of Natural Sciences, have worked diligently throughout the year on their Mansfield University-supported independent research projects. Several students presented their work at state and regional conferences.

Recently, seven MU biology students presented their original research projects at the 53rd Annual Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists (CPUB) meeting at Lock Haven University on April 9, 2022 (virtually). The conference drew about 45 research presentations by students from across the PA State System of Higher Education.

Shaelyn Marx (Stroudsburg, Pa.), a senior biology: cell and molecular concentration major, gave a platform oral presentation on her research, “Impact of Tumor Cell-Produced Cytokines on Macrophage Polarization.” Marx, who was mentored by Dr. Kristen Long, won 1st place for her talk in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Poster presentations were given by six students: Dain Becker, Alexis Easling, James Esposito, Lauren Griffith, Carly Root, and Kassidy Wood. Becker, Esposito, and Root competed in the category of Ecology and Organismal Biology; Easling, Griffith, and Wood competed in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Dain Becker (Thurston, N.Y.) a senior biology major presented on the “Effects of Fertilizers on Phaseolus vulgaris.” James Esposito (Sayre, Pa.) a junior biology major presented on the “Effects of Road Salts on Plant Growth.” Both students were mentored by Dr. Robert Maris. Carly Root (Trout Run, Pa.) a senior biology: environmental biology concentration major presented on “Sequestration of Toxic Metals by Wild Mushrooms near Abandoned Coal Mine.” Root was mentored by Drs. Gregory Carson, Elaine Farkas, Gregory Moyer, and Jeanne Kagle. Root earned 1st place for her poster presentation, and Esposito earned second place for his poster presentation.

Alexis Easling (Corning, N.Y.) a senior biology: cell and molecular concentration major presented on “Developing an extraction protocol for high quality phage DNA from sewage sludge.” Kassidy Wood (Horseheads, N.Y.) a senior biology major presented on the “Comparison of Evolution Rate of Ciprofloxacin Resistance among Staphylococcus epidermidis Isolates.” Both students were mentored by Dr. Kagle. Lauren Griffith (Upper Marlboro, Md.) a junior biology: cell and molecular concentration major presented on “T cell impact on tumor microenvironment and therapy resistance.” Griffith was mentored by Dr. Long.

Last semester, Marx and Griffith also presented their Mansfield-supported research at regional conferences. Marx presented her research at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) 12th Annual Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research Conference (virtually). Griffith presented her work at the 3rd Annual Developmental Biology New York Conference held virtually in Ithaca, N.Y. (virtually). The conference included student presenters at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels, from local through international universities.

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 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 them to life.

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