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Alabama State University Forensic Majors Win National Science Foundation Travel Awards (406 hits)

Three of Alabama State University forensic students are soon to be on their way to present their cutting-edge research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Emerging Researchers national (ERN) conference on Feb. 21-23, in Washington, D.C. after having been awarded national travel awards.

Alexis Morgan and Shannon Pittman, graduate students in the ASU Forensic Science Program, and undergraduate forensic biology major Marquis Nelsonís winning abstracts are their collaborative thanatomicrobiome work performed in ASUís Thanatos Laboratory under the guidance of acclaimed national forensic science researcher, Dr. Gulnaz Javan.

Attendance at the conference provides important exposure to research in the forensic field and to the scientists who undertake that research. For this reason, ERNís travel awards help with costs associated with attending the meeting, which are conference registration, hotel accommodations, airfare and ground transportation. ERN is an annual conference that highlights the research of undergraduate and graduate students who participate in NSF-sponsored research programs.

Javan said Morganís study was performed in collaboration with Dr. DeEtta Mills, director of International Forensic Research Institute at the esteemed Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Morganís project is that screen postmortem microbiome is to generate a community DNA profile using capillary electrophoresis. This approach is advantageous because it provides a rapid genetic pattern of the microbes present in a sample, which is an important factor to consider when selecting samples for further sequencing processing.

ďThis is such a great honor and opportunity for these students to showcase their hard work and scientific knowledge. These awards not only support our future scientists but epitomizes collaborative research and STEM educational goals,Ē Mills said.

Nelsonís work is a collaborative effort headed by his research mentor Dr. Sheree Finley of ASUís Physical Sciences Department. It was funded in part by the Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) led by Dr. Komal Vig, director of MSEIP at ASU. Their thanatomicrobiome studies seek to uncover the putrefactive microorganisms in cadaver internal organs to provide advanced molecular identification tools for forensic investigations.

Pittman's study, Javan said, is a thanatomicrobiome study that focuses on the consequences of corpse death on microbial signatures for corpses discovered in the United States and Finland. This study is the first of its kind to use next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics techniques to compare postmortem microbial diversity of corpses from two different geographical locations. Pittman collaborated with the University of Pavia in Italy for her project.

Dr. Douglas Strout of ASUís Forensic Science Program encourages the winners to ďmake the most of the opportunity.Ē

This is the fourth year in a row that students from the Thanatos Lab have received travel awards for abstracts submitted to the ERN competition, with six of Javanís students having received this coveted prize.

ďOur students are being exposed to some of the most advanced research projects which prepare them for successful careers in the field of forensics,Ē Javan said.
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Wednesday, January 23rd 2019 at 2:04PM
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