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St. Bonaventure student takes first place in undergraduate poster presentation

Apr 24, 2024

Student poster presentersIn the photo: With one of the student posters presented at the meeting are (in front, from left) Serena Fan, Dr. Xiaoning Zhang, and Iesh Gurjal. In back (from left) are Samuel Griffin, Jacob Smeraldo and Cameron Heinig.

St. Bonaventure University sophomore Iesh Gurjal, a biochemistry major from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, won first place among 19 undergraduate student poster presenters at the American Society for Plant Biology Northeast Section Meeting, held April 20-21 at Cornell University.

Gurjal was one of five SBU students who attended the meeting accompanied by Dr. Xiaoning Zhang, professor of Biology and director of the Biochemistry program. There were about 130 participants at the meeting, including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty from more than 20 institutions.

“This was an optimal setting for our students because undergraduate students can seek inspiration for their professional growth from graduate students, postdocs and keynote speakers,” Zhang said. “I am very pleased that Iesh won the Undergraduate Student Poster Award. It is a professional recognition of the quality of our students and the excellent research training we provide in the Biochemistry program and Department of Biology.”

Gurjal agreed, noting, “While it was an honor to be awarded first place in poster presentations, the conference was a valuable learning experience, prompting many new research questions.”

Senior SBU biochemistry major Serena Fan from Buffalo, New York, who was selected to give an oral presentation, received high praise from scientists at the meeting, Zhang said.

Also presenting a poster at the conference was Samuel Griffin, a freshman from Orchard Park with a double major in biology and environmental studies.

Two freshman biochemistry majors attended the meeting as well: Jacob Smeraldo from Jamestown, New York, and Cameron Heinig from Hornell, New York.
“Attending the meeting not only gave me the opportunity to hear some amazing research ranging from the undergraduate to the professional level, but it also showed me the importance of networking and building connections, especially in the world of science where international efforts go into solving problems that affect every one of us,” Smeraldo said. 

Here are the titles of the students’ presentations:
  • Iesh Gurjal: “Serine/Arginine-rich 45 Promotes Arabidopsis thaliana Reproduction by Upregulating DAZ1 and Alternative Splicing of RAD4.”
  • Serena Fan: “Unravelling the Interplay within ASAP complex’s Role in RNA Regulations in Arabidopsis thaliana.”
  • Samuel Griffin: “Monitoring the Effect of Arabidopsis Growth on Aerial CO2 Concentration Using an Aranet4 CO2 Monitor.”


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).