UTSA students win research awards from American Society for Microbiology

Micro Bio Students

UTSA students Ann Reyes, Tricia Van Laar and Steve Rodriguez

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(Nov. 20, 2009)--One UTSA undergraduate student and two doctoral students researching topics in microbiology and infectious diseases won competitive awards for their poster and oral presentations at the Nov. 5-7 annual meeting of the Texas Branch of American Society for Microbiology at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Ann Reyes, an undergraduate majoring in biology and math and Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) scholar, was awarded the Sam Kaplan Poster Award for second place among posters presented by undergraduates at the conference. The poster showcased her research characterizing the role of polyamines in the patho-physiology of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme's disease. Reyes' research is supported by the UTSA MBRS-RISE program.

Tricia Van Laar, a third-year cellular and molecular biology doctoral student, won the O.B. William Award (third place) for her oral presentation in general microbiology. The presentation described the characterization of a novel chemical pathway in Borrelia burgdorferi that leads to the development of a metabolic intermediate that could contribute to several aspects critical for the survival and infectivity of B. burgdorferi.

Steve Rodriguez, a fifth-year cellular and molecular biology doctoral student, won the S. E. Sulkin Award (third place) for his oral presentation on medical microbiology. Rodriguez discussed a pathogenic component of the Franciscella tularensis genome that is essential for virulence.

"The American Society for Microbiology's competitive awards are excellent indicators of the caliber of work carried out by our graduate and undergraduate students at UTSA," said Janakiram Seshu, assistant professor of microbiology and a member of UTSA's South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. "These accolades also increase the profile of our research efforts by helping us attract top-notch students from different regions of Texas to graduate and undergraduate programs at UTSA."