Award Recipient Adds Diverse Representation to Molecular Parasitology Meeting


By Kristin Noell posted 05-17-2018 07:11


The University of Chicago Marine Biological Laboratory recently hosted the 28th Molecular Parasitology Meeting where scientists from around the world presented and discussed the major areas of parasite molecular biology research. I traveled to this meeting with the financial assistance I received through the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award.

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 Standing next to my poster at the 28th Molecular Parasitology Meeting

During this meeting, I presented my current dissertation work to renowned expert parasitologists’ and explained ways in which Perkinsus marinus could serve as an ideal aquatic parasitic model, in regard to lipid metabolism. Not only did this meeting provide me with a chance to meet one of the few experts who currently works with my parasite, but I also was given the opportunity to discuss the implications of my study. This meeting also allowed me to converse with junior, associate, and assistant professors about Perkinsus marinus and compare its likeness to human-prone parasites such as the Plasmodium spp and Trypansomes.

My work was received with great enthusiasm. Attending allowed me to network and make connections that I would not have made otherwise. Additionally, I was exposed to other areas of parasitology and to parasites of which I was unaware. There are quite a few interesting projects that explored the molecular and cellular level of these parasites’ functionality, which could be useful to toxicologists or many interdisciplinary scientists. Some of the sessions, in brief, explored the importance of signaling pathways and their role in carbohydrate substrate metabolism, whereas others focused on different metabolic markers that can be used for drug targets during the apicomplexan life cycle. Other sessions I attended examined RNA metabolism in parasites during the life cycle. During my poster presentation, I was fortunate to meet Dr. Kimberly Paul, a lipid biologist from Clemson University. We discussed not only my project but also alternative techniques to detect lipid droplets in parasitic cultures.

At this meeting, I added increased diversity, because I was only one of the few African American women in attendance, thus, presenting a double minority. Overall, I left the conference with new contacts, most of whom are trailblazers in the field of parasitology, and I was exposed to research that could impact my current dissertation work. I gained professional and research tools needed to advance my career as a young scientist, which include but are by no means limited to: being exposed to a range of experimental designs that could help my current project, interacting with prominent scientists in my research field, increasing my networking and professional development skills, and showing others that African-American women also are making an impact in the interdisciplinary sciences.  

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 The University of Chicago Marine Biological Laboratory

The SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award enables undergraduate and graduate students to engage in additional education and career development opportunities to enhance their personal development. The SOT Diversity Initiative Endowment Fund provides the award that aims to increase and retain individuals from groups under-represented in the biomedical sciences. Recipients of this award are chosen based on criteria that include quality of proposed experience, relevance of the proposed professional activity to a career involving the science of toxicology, academic achievement, and recommendation by academic advisor. 

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