The 2015 International Student Poster Competition was held at the ISPE Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The competition had a great turnout with a lot of exceptional research presented. This year, the undergraduate winner was Neeraja Ravi from the San Diego Chapter and the graduate winner was Sydney Shaw from the Boston Chapter.

Neeraja Ravi, Undergraduate Winner:

Neeraja Ravi’s poster presented work with Dr. Adam Engler from the Bioengineering Department at the University of California, San Diego.  Their work analyzed mechanical cues that guide stem cell differentiation. The results supported the idea that stem cell fate can be linked to cell traction forces and biomechanical interactions with extracellular proteins. The knowledge of mechanical signaling in stem cells could help in designing well-developed culturing substrates to culture stem cells in the lab as a potential source for stem cell therapies.

Neeraja Ravi is a graduating senior majoring in Bioengineering, with a concentration in Biotechnology, from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  In Ravi’s spare time, she loves to run outside, sing on an A cappella team at UCSD and sample desserts. After graduation she hopes to continue studying tissue engineering and biomechanics in graduate school.

Sydney Shaw, Graduate Winner:

Sydney Shaw’s poster included a piece from her graduate thesis on the Catharanthus roseus plant (Madagascar periwinkle) advised by Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons at Northeastern University. The Catharanthus plant is the sole source of the medicinally important compounds vinblastine and vincristine, which are used in cancer chemotherapy. Because these compounds are sourced through extraction from the plant material, abundant research has gone into understanding the native metabolism in order to engineer strategies for upregulating production. Shaw’s work focused on looking at gene expression in a specific part of the pathway that produces the immediate precursor to vinblastine and vincristine in order to better understand production bottlenecks. Her work showed that environmental factors have an effect on gene expression of some of the genes in the pathway.

2015 International Student Poster Competition Winner - Sydney Shaw
Sydney Shaw has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University. Upon graduation in May of 2015, Shaw began working as a Process Engineer at Genzyme where she performs small scale protein purification for process improvement. In her spare time, Shaw enjoys getting outside to rock climb and ski.

Congratulations to all of this year’s poster competitors!  Learn more about the annual International Student Poster Competition and how you can participate.