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Titans Shine at Statewide Biotech Symposium

Four Earn Top Honors for Excellence in Research, Teaching

Jan. 16, 2014

David and Kay Pauling presented biology graduate student Katherine Nakama with CSUPERB's Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award at the CSU Biotechnology Symposium.

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Four Cal State Fullerton science students are standouts among their California State University peers with each receiving top honors from the CSU's Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) for their achievements in research and teaching.

The CSUPERB annual awards were presented to students who reflect the best of research, teaching and service in the biological sciences.

CSUF's David Lin is this year's Don Eden Graduate Student Research Award winner, and Katherine Nakama is one of two recipients of the Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award. Lin and Nakama are both master's students in biology. Undergrads Matthew Dalphin and Matthew Siracusa were selected as Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholars for research projects related to women's health.

The awards were announced Jan. 11 at the 26th annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium in Santa Clara, organized by CSUPERB. Nearly 700 students, faculty, alumni, administrators and partners attended, including nine CSUF faculty members and 31 students who presented their research projects. A total of 263 research posters from 21 CSU universities were accepted for presentation.

"It means a great deal to me to win this award," said Lin, who plans a career in research. "It's an honor, especially because there was a lot of excellent work presented by other CSU students."

Lin has been working in the lab of Marcelo E. Tolmasky, professor of biological science, studying a bacterial enzyme that can inactivate antibiotics. "I have been searching for a way to stop this enzyme from performing its function so that the antibiotics never get inactivated, allowing us to treat bacterial infections with previously useless antibiotics."

Nakama, who plans a teaching and research career in academia, is known for fostering a supportive environment that encourages undergrads to learn and succeed in science.

"Although it's rewarding enough to know that I have made an impact on a student's education, it means a lot to be acknowledged and recognized for your work — especially knowing that there are hundreds of amazing teaching assistants across the CSU," said Nakama.

Nakama's faculty mentor, Hope A. Johnson, assistant professor of biological science, nominated her for the award.

"Katie has developed into an amazing teacher," said Johnson. "She has a strong love for microbiology and is able to share that with her students." Nakama is working on research in Johnson's lab focusing on better understanding a bacterial protein that oxidizes metals in the environment.

As recipients of the scholar award, Dalphin and Siracusa each received $3,500 to fund their undergraduate research efforts. Twelve students from seven CSU campuses received the award.

"I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given here at CSUF. It means a lot to know that my research efforts are being recognized not only by CSUF, but also across the entire CSU system," said Siracusa, a biological science major conducting research in the lab of Nikolas Nikolaidis, assistant professor of biological science.

Siracusa's research project involves testing genetic mutations of one of the main proteins involved in the human stress response to see if mutations alter the function of the protein. He plans to become a research scientist and work on developing new and novel treatments for diseases, such as cancer.

Dalphin, studying biochemistry, is working in the lab of Maria C. Linder, professor of biochemistry. His research focuses on copper-binding blood plasma proteins to identify new proteins that may be involved in iron transport and affected by birth control drugs.

"Being recognized for my work has inspired me to continue improving my research abilities in order to significantly contribute to the field of women's health," said Dalphin, who aspires to become a university faculty member to help cultivate and mentor future generations of researchers.

More information about the CSUPERB symposium is available online

Media Contact:

Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-402

Tags:  Academics & Research