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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

July 2023

Postbacs shine at NIH Poster Day

NIEHS postbacs presented their research as preparation for graduate and professional schools, and four earned Outstanding Poster Awards.

Twenty-eight NIEHS postbaccalaureate (postbac) program trainees presented their work in person and virtually during the 2023 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postbac Poster Day held April 19-20 at the Bethesda, Maryland campus. Four of the trainees, who are all recent college graduates, ranked in the top 20% of the nearly 950 postbacs who presented at the NIH-wide event.

The four postbacs who received Outstanding Poster Awards include the following.

  • Gloria Choi, mentored by Janet Hall, M.D., and Skand Shekhar, M.D., presented “Appetite Response to Short-Term Energy Restriction in Young Healthy Women.”
  • Abra Granger, mentored by Roel Schaaper, Ph.D., and Lalith Perera, Ph.D., presented “Employing Molecular Dynamics Simulations to Characterize dGTPase Enzyme Function in E. coli.”
  • Stephanie Jones, mentored by Serena Dudek, Ph.D., presented “Prenatal Exposure to Anti-Mineralocorticoid Spironolactone Results in Altered CA2 Axonal Phenotype.”
  •  Oindrila Paul, mentored by Elizabeth Martin, Ph.D., presented “Activation of Progesterone Receptor by DEHP and Endogenous Progesterone Differentially Impact Cell Growth.”
Four NIEHS postbacs — from left to right, Choi, Granger, Jones, and Paul — received Outstanding Poster Awards at the 2023 NIH Poster Day.
Four NIEHS postbacs — from left to right, Choi, Granger, Jones, and Paul — received Outstanding Poster Awards at the 2023 NIH Poster Day. (Photos courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Teams of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, staff scientists and clinicians, and training directors scored the posters, which represented research from all 27 NIH centers and institutes.

Broadening horizons

“Postbac Poster Day is a wonderful opportunity for postbacs to present their research, which is an essential skill as they move on to graduate and professional school,” said Katy Hamilton, Office of Fellows’ Career Development summer internship and postbac program manager.

For the first time since 2019, trainees were able to travel to and present their posters at the NIH campus in Bethesda. They had the opportunity to gather with hundreds of other postbacs who are engaged in research at NIH as they prepare for graduate or professional schools, including medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, or veterinary school.

“It is a powerful experience for postbacs to see the big picture and learn about different research happening across the NIH,” Hamilton said.

Postbac contributions recognized

The NIH Poster Day marks the culmination of one or two years of full-time research that postbacs complete alongside mentors at NIEHS. During the event, the postbacs present posters highlighting research that they have performed with NIEHS scientists and staff.

For example, Granger, who graduated from the University of Richmond before joining NIEHS as a postbac, presented work regarding the regulation of the dGTPase enzyme in Escherichia coli. Granger received an Outstanding Poster Award for the second year in a row.

In addition, Paul, a North Carolina State University graduate, presented findings indicating how exposure to phthalates — chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system — may affect breast cancer risk. Jones, a University of West Florida graduate, presented work showing how a stressful environment, including early life adversity, may affect brain development.

Examining how a calorie-restricted diet may affect reproductive hormone levels, was the focus of Choi’s poster presentation.

“Everyone at the poster session was very supportive of the research and asked good questions,” Choi, a Vanderbilt University graduate, said. “I honestly did not expect to get the outstanding poster award, but I'm very grateful.”

(Susan Cosier is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

Abra Granger Granger plans to continue her work with NIEHS until applying to medical schools next year. (Photo courtesy of Princess Kamuche)
Gloria Choi Choi plans to attend medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Levine)
Oindrila Paul Paul plans to continue her work on phthalate research until applying to Ph.D. programs later this year. (Photo courtesy of Oindrila Paul)

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