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  • Maddie Dishaw

Briar Cliff Students Visit San Diego for Biology Conference

On April 8, ten Briar Cliff students embarked on a trip to San Diego, California to attend a biology conference with Dr. Eric Jung and retired professor Dr. Paul Weber. This consisted of five different research groups, each presenting the research they’ve been doing on campus.


On Friday, April 8, the group left Briar Cliff at 2:00 a.m. and arrived in Des Moines, Iowa for an 8 o’clock flight to San Diego. They spent the rest of this day exploring the city and visiting Point Loma Nazarene University, where they would be presenting their research the next day.


The next day, the students were fully occupied by the conference. Senior, Hunter Pitts, was one of the students presenting at the conference.


“There were poster presentations, which is what everybody from Briar Cliff did and then there was seminar presentations,” Pitts said. “It would go poster session, one seminar session, and then another poster session, another seminar session, and so on.”


Pitts partnered with RJ Harris for her research project. Their hypothesis was that the induction of IDO is via cytokine IL-27, which causes prosperous tumor microenvironment.


After the presentations took place, there was an award ceremony where two of five of Briar Cliff’s research groups placed. One of the groups that placed included sophomore Kennedy Benne, who looked back on her research project.


“In Sioux City, we produce as much nitrogen as New York City, which has millions of people and we are just a few thousand,” Benne said. “So, we’re trying to see if we can find microorganisms that we can place in the water treatment system that works to breakdown that nitrogen.”


Briar Cliff wasn’t the only school to present their research at this conference. Some of the other universities present had research that the students thought was very interesting.


“There was a girl from Villanova who did some experiments on drosophila flies and actually got to dissect them” Pitts said. “She was finding how different parts of the nerve cord and the nervous system correlates to different body parts as they age.”


This conference not only helped set a precedent for what Briar Cliff students are capable of with current resources, but it also was a point of growth for some of the students.


“I would say that the biggest thing for me is that I really had to step outside my comfort zone, because usually I’m a very shy and reserved person,” Benne said. “What I did was just be very personable and put myself out there.”


Photo Credit: Hunter Pitts

Briar Cliff students pose in front of Point Loma Nazarene University before biology research conference.

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