Undergraduate Research Day hosted at the University of Wyoming proved well for four Central Wyoming College students. Jana Favela, Asia Williams, Rachel Graham and Rachel Tighe all received a Community College Transfer Fellowship from INBRE (IDEA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence). This two-year award is worth $10,000 for each student to continue their education at UW. Only 11 fellowships were awarded to students from around the state.
Undergraduate Research Day provides a forum for student researchers from across the state to present research they’ve conducted. More than 20 CWC faculty and students attended the annual event to share research in forms of oral presentations, posters and papers. Presentations ranged from research in archaeology, biomedical, microbial and the environment and Earth science realms.
CWC INBRE students, who were awarded the fellowship, earned their award based on their research with capsaicin in a poster presentation during the event. Favela, who started working with Professor Steve McAllister two years ago with research on West Nile, later transitioned into the collaborative project with Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan from UW on metabolic pathways in spring 2014.
“None of us were familiar with this type of work so it was a lot of self-research,” Favela said. “We learned a lot of new techniques such as Western blots, cell culture and ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assays).”
Williams, Graham, Tighe and Favela worked together to study capsaicin on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as obesity. The lab at UW, under the direction of Dr. Thyagarajan, raised the mice that were tested. Each mouse was either put on a diet high in fat or high in fat with the addition of capsaicin. Once CWC received the livers from the mice they extracted and measured lipid levels to see if those levels were affected by the capsaicin supplement.
“The best thing is learning in class and doing the practical application in the labs, it makes it real,” Favela said.
“It gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes,” Tighe said. “It doesn’t always work the way the book or lecture says it should.”
All four students will transfer to UW in the fall, each taking a separate path in their studies. Rachel Graham and Rachel Tighe are both studying physiology, Favela will be studying molecular biology and Williams will study microbiology.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what research is going on in the labs at UW and we will get to help in several labs,” Favela said.
“It will be nice to do research on something that is more related to the degree program we are all going into,” Graham said.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with these students,” McAllister said. “They are some of the best students I’ve had.”