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Undergraduate Students in the Cell Death Laboratory Receive Honors

Monday, April 16, 2018
Samantha Bouchal, Pranalee Patel, and Jennifer McMains

Photo: Cell Death Laboratory members Samantha Bouchal, Pranalee Patel, and Jennifer McMains

The Cell Death Laboratory led by Dr. Gayathri Devi, Associate Professor in Surgery, Division of Surgical Sciences, would like to recognize three undergraduate students for their recent honors.

Samantha Bouchal, a junior at Duke University has been selected as a Goldwater Scholar. This federally endowed scholarship program honoring the late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Virtually all scholars intend to obtain a PhD as their degree objective. Ms. Bouchal's project in the Cell Death Laboratory focuses on the role of an anti-cell death protein, XIAP, in the development of brain metastases in breast cancer patients.

In addition, Ms. Bouchal has been selected to receive the 2018 Thomas J. Bardos American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Undergraduate Scholar Award. This honor is intended to inspire young science students to enter the field of cancer research. Of interest, Aris Baras, the first undergraduate independent study student (2005-06) in the Cell Death Laboratory was a past recipient of this prestigious undergraduate award and is currently a co-head of the Regeneron Genetics Center at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Pranalee Patel, a senior majoring in both biology and global health, has been conducting independent study research in the Cell Death Laboratory since 2015 and completed an honor's thesis for graduation this May. Ms. Patel's research work as lead author has been selected for a poster presentation at the 2018 American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) meeting, which is titled "Targeting ribonucleotide reductase M2 using didox causes inhibition of estrogen receptor-negative, inflammatory breast cancer cell proliferation and tumor emboli formation in culture" in the session on "DNA Damage and Cell Cycle Regulation Experimental Therapeutics" on April 18, 2018. In addition to conducting research, Ms. Patel is involved in Sexual and Reproductive Health Peer Advocacy and Empowerment and is a recipient of the 2017 Aalok S. Modi Global Health Fieldwork grant.

Jennifer McMains, a sophomore in public health studies at East Carolina University is a student intern in a Duke AHEAD-supported education project in the Cell Death Laboratory and a lead author on an abstract titled "Perceptions of translational science among faculty researchers," which was accepted for presentation at the 2018 Translational Sciences Meeting.

Additionally, Pranalee Patel and Jenna McMains will present their research projects at the upcoming 3rd Annual Surgery Research Day.

The Cell Death Laboratory is extensively sought out by undergraduate students at Duke and other universities to garner research experience. Many of the lab's past trainees have completed honor's theses and gone on to pursue graduate and medical careers.

Currently, the lab is accepting applications from undergraduate students for the 2018 Fall and 2019 Spring semesters. Interested students may email Dr. Gayathri Devi.