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Shepherd University science students win at state competition

ISSUED: 27 June 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd University science students win at state competition)

Shepherdstown, WV--Four Shepherd University students placed first in their categories at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the West Virginia Academy of Science (WVAS) at the Canaan Valley Institute in Davis April 6.

Benjamin Hackett, a biology major from Morgantown who graduated in May, took first in undergraduate oral presentations with his research and analysis "Investigating the Cellular Long-term Memory Foundation and Disruption in the Pond Snail, Lymnaea Palustris" with Dr. Carol Plautz, associate professor of biology.

"They announced my name, and I just couldn't believe it. I was so shocked," he said. "Going to WVAS was an experience in itself. The conference was really great."

Nathan Brandt, an environmental studies senior from Frederick, Maryland, and Sarah Barry, an environmental chemistry senior from Martinsburg, won in the undergraduate biology poster division. Rhonda Williams, a chemistry senior from Martinsburg won for non-biology. In all, 26 students and eight faculty from Shepherd's School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics attended the meeting.

"It was a Shepherd sweep of all the undergraduate categories which is really amazing," Plautz said. "It shows that our students are performing high-level scientific work."

Beyond the wins, Plautz said the best part of WVAS was taking students to a real scientific meeting and that having them experience what it is like to present their scientific findings is invaluable.

"They are presenting in front of professors, researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates from other institutions," she said. "They will find a community of scientists to appreciate their work and pose questions to them."

Hackett said he loved being at the meeting with his friends and lab group.

"It was great to see other research projects occurring all over the state, and it was interesting to see a conference like this for the first time," he said. "I just really loved the whole trip and experience."

WVAS holds its annual meeting to promote the sciences and exchange of scientific information among West Virginia colleges and universities. Dr. Jason Best, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Shepherd, is the WVAS president and will bring next year's meeting to Shepherd in April 2014.

-30-WILKIE

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Benjamin Hackett with Dr. Carol Plautz

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