By Katie Faulkner, ’17
St. Bonaventure biochemistry major Jordan Powers, ’18, was recognized at a regional scientific meeting for his oral presentation on RNA sequencing.
Powers attended the Rustbelt RNA meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, with associate professor Dr. Xiao-Ning Zhang. Powers gave an oral presentation titled “RNA-seq data analysis revealed a novel role of SR45 in plant innate immunity” about his research and won one of the two “Outstanding Undergraduate in Oral Presentation” awards. He received immediate congratulations from several professors in research-orientated universities in person or via email.
The Rustbelt RNA meeting hosted nearly 300 participants, including professors, post-doctoral and graduate students.
Powers, a junior from Lakewood, N.Y., said he was honored to receive the award, especially because it was his first professional talk.
The research conducted by Powers and co-author Nikhil Gowda, a biology major at St. Bonaventure, centered on a protein called SR45 found in the Arabidopsis plant, that also exists in all animals and plants. It is needed for proper development of root and flower growth. Using bioinformatics approaches, Gowda found that this protein suppresses genes related to immunity. Powers examined these findings with biological tests on both a wild type and a mutant and saw the mutant had a higher innate immunity. They are now looking to create transgenic plants that would be able to regulate this gene through the presence of pathogen.
The students are pursuing their research under Zhang, who is also director of St. Bonaventure’s biochemistry program.
“The field of biology and biochemistry is changing rapidly. To get prepared for their next step, students must go above and beyond their classroom learning,” said Zhang.
She said engaging in an active research program is one of the most effective ways for students to find their passion and experience possibilities that bridge their “book learning” and future career paths.
“I am very proud of these students who choose to challenge themselves and ultimately thrive with greater accomplishments than what they have anticipated. The fact that I can provide them opportunities to do cutting-edge research at St. Bonaventure University is due to the use of a popular model organism, Arabidopsis, which has tremendous value in not only agricultural research, but also biomedical research,” said Zhang. “I have enjoyed my years of work with motivated students and showing them how amazing the research world is, nationally and internationally. Through research, students see many doors open in front them and infinite possibilities ahead.”
A graduate of Southwestern High School, Powers is a member of St. Bonaventure’s men’s swimming and diving team.
The Rustbelt RNA meeting is a regional scientific meeting that gathers scientists from throughout the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic United States to discuss RNA-related biomedical research.
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