By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor
On Saturday, April 9, three West Liberty biology students earned awards for their oral presentations at this year’s West Virginia Academy of Science (WVAS) Meeting at Marshall University. Junior Austin Cusick won first place overall for undergraduate oral presentations, and Luke Sadecky and Devin Sindeldecker received honorable mentions for their oral presentations.
Cusick is a junior biology major with minors in chemistry and psychology, with the goal of becoming a physician. The name of his presentation, which won first place over all categories, was Colonization of Mosquitoes via a Nectar Reservoir.
“Typically malaria and tularemia are transmitted by mosquito from mammal to mammal,” said Cusick. “However, we proposed a new model with Francisella tularensis (tularemia bacteria) that the bacteria may stay in a flowers nectar and be transmitted through that regard. During intermittent feeding by the bacteria, Mosquitoes can retrieve it and carry it further.”
Cusick’s research team included biology faculty mentors Dr. Joseph Horzempa and Dr. Roger Seeber, as well as students Adam Kenney, Jessica Payne, and Anna Gaughenbaugh.
“I am very honored by the award I received at the conference,” Cusick said. “The competition had many different interesting areas of science that were all notable in their own regard.”
“To have been chosen for the award brings a sense of accomplishment to myself and those who have supported me,” said Cusick. “In addition, it was an amazing feeling to receive an award to help promote West Liberty’s exciting science programs and the training provided by these to the students.”
Sindeldecker and Sadecky are also biology majors, and received overall honorable mentions for their respective oral presentations. Sadecky is a junior biology major with a minor in geography. He plans on graduating this December and going on to earn a master’s in education. His research, presented as The Life History of Cambarus carinirostris in Northern West Virginia was conducted under Dr. Zachary Loughman.
Sindeldecker is a senior biology major who will be enrolled in the Ohio State University for the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program next year. His project, done in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Horzempa, is entitled The Role of FTL_0129 in Erythrocyte Invasion by Francisella tularensis.
Overall, 30 West Liberty students and faculty from biology, chemistry, nursing, and psychology disciplines presented their research at the annual statewide conference.
“The meeting went great, and as far as our participation, we are always a dominant force,” said Dr. Roger Seeber, professor of biology, WVAS treasurer, and West Liberty University WVAS representative. “The meeting was good, and we did good,” he said.
Next year, the WVAS Meeting with be held at Glenville State College. According to Seeber, the meeting will again be held at West Liberty in 2019, at the end of WLU assistant professor of biology Dr. Zachary Loughman’s upcoming two-year term as president of WVAS, beginning in the summer of 2017.