Karen Merrell, a first-year Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry, won the award for best poster presentation at the recent conference of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities. The group consists of scientists from academic and industry labs that do bioanalytical work, emphasizing technologies such as DNA sequencing, microarrays and proteomics.
Merrell was one of only 30 students among the 1400 attendees, and she shared her award with a postdoctoral fellow from Germany, a faculty member at a biomedical research institution and the chief scientific officer from a biotech company.
A native of Las Cruces, N.M., Merrell studies under the direction of Steven Graves and Craig Thulin, both biochemistry professors. Her project involves developing methods for discovering diagnostic biomarkers from the serum of people who are at risk for diseases that don't show strong clinical symptoms until late in the disease progression, when therapy is often unsuccessful. Such diseases include complications of pregnancy like preterm birth and preeclampsia, as well as various forms of cancer. The study will soon be published in the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques.
Biochemistry graduate students Michael Carter and ZhaoYuan Chen also presented posters and will have their researched published in the same journal. Sarah Warburton, the fourth BYU graduate student at the conference, presented her poster and has submitted her study to the Journal of Biological Chemistry.