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College of Arts and Sciences

Biology Graduate Students Win First and Second Place at NJWEA Conference  

Award winner left to right Isabella Somera, Alexandra Bambrick, NJWEA judge, NJWEA coordinator, Pooja Shah, Katherine Lefferts, Dr. Jessica Cottrell.

Starting at the Left: Isabella Somera, Alexandra Bambrick, NJWEA judge, NJWEA coordinator, Pooja Shah, Katherine Lefferts, Dr. Jessica Cottrell.

Four graduate students within the M.S. in Biology and M.S. in Microbiology programs took home awards for their research in the graduate-level category during the 107th John J. Lagrosa Annual Conference and Exposition of the New Jersey Water Environment Association (NJWEA) held from May 9 – 13, 2022 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Katherine Lefferts ’20/M.S. ‘22 and Pooja Shah, M.S. ’22, won first place for their work, “Investigation of Trace Elements Common in Local Environments and their Effects on Bone Metabolism in a 3D Bone Model.”

Their research sought to determine the optimal concentration range for the trace elements of zinc and magnesium to maintain bone homeostasis – the balanced, active remodeling of new and old bone tissue – in terrestrial animals in New Jersey’s wetlands. Both Lefferts and Shah graduated this past May, and will continue their studies in the fall in the University’s Ph.D. in Molecular Bioscience program.

Additionally, Alexandra Bambrick and Isabella Somera were recognized with second place for their research, “Quantifying the Effects of Trace Elements Manganese Chloride and Copper Chloride on Chondrocyte Function,” which demonstrated diametric effects between copper and manganese in chondrogenesis, or the process by which cells that form cartilage mature.

As part of their recognition, the students received funds to support future research focusing on how trace element accumulation in skeletons of both aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates can lead to bone homeostasis imbalance, under the continued mentorship of Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Jessica Cottrell, Ph.D. and her Osteoimmunology Research Lab.

Already involved in Cottrell’s lab, the students will continue receiving hands-on experience and guidance from Cottrell while focused on understanding bone homeostasis and bone healing.

“Specifically in my lab, we research connections between events, like bone fractures, or substances that trigger inflammation and immune cells recruitment which ultimately disrupts bone homeostasis or healing,” said Cottrell. “I was delighted that the NJWEA recognized these students for their hard work, and look forward to working alongside them as they continue their studies at Seton Hall.”

For more information on graduate programs within the College of Arts and Sciences – including the M.S., Biology and M.S., Microbiology programs – please contact Associate Dean Michael Dooney at [email protected].

Categories: Science and Technology

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