Two Hampden-Sydney biology students, Taylor Meinhardt ’16 and Will Echols ’17, and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Mike Wolyniak recently returned from the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in San Diego, California. The ASCB is the world’s preeminent society for cell biologists and attracts thousands of scientists from around the world each December to their annual meeting. Meinhardt presented his research to the meeting on the molecular activation of T-cells that he performed this past summer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the Hampden-Sydney Honors Council Summer Research Program.
His mentor at the NIH, Dr. Sricharan Murugesan, visits H-SC regularly and works with Dr. Wolyniak to bring cutting-edge laboratory research opportunities to the College’s biology students. Dr. Wolyniak is an active member of the ASCB’s Education Committee and presented his work to the meeting on developing the Committee’s mentorship program that, among other things, brought Dr. Murugesan’s research to the H-SC community. While in San Diego, the H-SC team was also able to catch up with Kris Miller ’13, a staff scientist with Synthetic Genomics, Inc. working on recombinant viral research related to work he originally did while a student in Dr. Wolyniak’s Molecular and Cellular Biology class. Synthetic Genomics is a company founded by J. Craig Venter of the Human Genome Project whose mission is to develop alternative fuels through the modification or synthetic production of microorganisms.
The ASCB Annual Meeting is an outstanding opportunity for students to interact with peers as well as trained scientists of all levels as they work to discern their future career interests. Meinhardt is interested in pursuing graduate school in molecular biology while Echols, who performed research in Dr. Wolyniak’s laboratory on characterizing the yeast homolog of a human prostate cancer tumor factor, has already been admitted to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine as part of the College’s Early Assurance agreement.