LSC-Mont­gomery stu­dents con­duct next-level re­search

Public News (Houston) - - NEWS -

Com­mu­nity col­leges are not nor­mally known for their un­der­grad­u­ate re­search, but Lone Star Col­lege-Mont­gomery stu­dents are forg­ing their own path. Five pro­fes­sors and one stu­dent have been awarded grants from LSCMont­gomery’s newly formed Un­der­grad­u­ate Re­search In­sti­tute (URI).

URI seeks to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of un­der­grad­u­ate re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties for LSC-Mont­gomery stu­dents in the Arts, Hu­man­i­ties, Sci­ences, and So­cial Sci­ences. The pri­mary goal of the URI is to em­power stu­dents to take an ac­tive role in de­vel­op­ing and defin­ing their ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ences by col­lab­o­rat­ing with fac­ulty to make orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions to the aca­demic conversation.

“Stud­ies have shown that par­tic­i­pa­tion in re­search de­vel­ops stu­dents’ prob­lem-solv­ing skills, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and team­work,” said Dr. Re­becca Ri­ley, LSC-Mont­gomery pres­i­dent. “These are im­por­tant skills needed in a job or when trans­fer­ring to a univer­sity or col­lege. It is our goal to give LSC-Mont­gomery stu­dents the ex­pe­ri­ence they need to suc­ceed, and re­search is prov­ing to be an im­por­tant tool to help our stu­dents put their best foot for­ward.”

Projects range from a com­mu­nity ser­vice learn­ing-col­labo­ra­tion project to grow­ing your food to us­ing al­gae to make prod­ucts that fight in­flam­ma­tion and help the im­mune sys­tem.

Va­supradha Va­sude­van is con­duct­ing the later ex­per­i­ment. She is crack­ing al­gae open, in­sert­ing in­struc­tions to make pro­teins, then har­vest­ing those pro­teins.

“I feel em­pow­ered at LSC-Mont- gomery,” said Va­sude­van. “You can com­pare the re­search I am per­form­ing to hu­man cells and how they re­spond, so what I am do­ing has di­rect ap­pli­ca­tions to fight­ing dis­eases.”

For Va­sude­van, the re­search is per­sonal. “My younger brother died of can­cer,” she said. “He was di­ag­nosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin’s Lym­phoma. My fam­ily is ev­ery­thing to me, so it was a huge shock when he passed away. He was my only sib­ling. The ex­pe­ri­ence made me think that what­ever ed­u­ca­tion I had so far was use­less, I wanted to help find a cure.”

As part of the grant, Va­sude­van works with Dr. Ja­neu Hous­ton, a fac­ulty ad­vi­sor. “One of the mol­e­cules we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing helps boost the im­mune sys­tem and has been used to fight can­cer or other in­flam­ma­tory dis­eases,” said Dr. Hous­ton. “Be­cause of Va­supradha’s brother the fo­cus of our re­search has al­ways been in­creas­ing im­mu­nity and im­mune health. As a sci­en­tist, one of the things that is al­ways at the fore­front of our minds is the op­por­tu­nity to work on some­thing that could save some­body else from go­ing through pain you have ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Va­sude­van has been cho­sen to present her re­search at the pres­ti­gious 2017 Na­tional Con­fer­ence on Un­der­grad­u­ate Re­search. Of the 4,000 ab­stracts sub­mit­ted for the en­tire con­fer­ence, only about 100 from across the coun­try were cho­sen to present re­search in Molec­u­lar Bi­ol­ogy. She was cho­sen to present two of these 25 re­search projects, and she is the only com­mu­nity col­lege stu­dent to present in the cat­e­gory of Molec­u­lar Bi­ol­ogy.

DR. JA­NEU HOUS­TON, VA­SUPRADHA VA­SUDE­VAN AND LORNA BREWER

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