UMaine undergraduate, graduate student researchers earn top poster honors at MBMSS

Twenty student researchers and teams from the University of Maine received poster awards in the annual Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium (MBMSS), a statewide gathering hosted by MDI Biological Laboratory that is designed to encourage students, scientists and entrepreneurs to share research results, exchange ideas, promote collaboration and facilitate networking opportunities. 

This year’s two-day event, held online in April due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured 53 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers from 13 Maine academic and research institutions presenting their scientific posters. 

Twenty-four judges reviewed and provided feedback on the posters, which were scored on their appearance, scientific content and presentation online. Those students with the highest poster scores in each category received cash awards of $500, $250 and $100 for first, second and third places; $50 for honorable mention. The awardee list follows. An MDI Biological Laboratory news release about the event and awards is online.

MBMSS 2020 Poster Awards

Undergraduate: first- and second-year

First place: Ezekiel Robinson 
“Low-Dose Arsenic Exposure Impacts the Expression of Orthologous Breast Cancer Associated Genes in Zebrafish Embryos”
This poster represents a team of students from the HON 350 course that Keith Hutchison and Ben King mentored. The team includes Ezekiel Robinson, Matthew Cox, Basel White, Lillie Fortier and Tamra Bensen.

Second place: Lauren Cusson
“Epsocamisio, the Little Phage That Could (Without Integrase)”
This poster represents a team of students from the HON 155 course that Melody Neely, Michael Wilcek, and Sally Molloy mentored. The team includes Lauren Cusson, Libbie Currie, Andre Daigle and Emma Dunn.

Third place: Basel White — UMaine, Honors; Kahlil Lab
“Wavelet-Based Automatic Pectoral Muscle Segmentation from Mammograms”


Ezekiel Robinson — UMaine, Honors; King Lab (Maine Genomics Research Collaborative)
“Identifying potential genes of interest in Danio rerio infected with Influenza A”

Remi Geohegan — UMaine; Maginnis Lab
“ERK Activation Enhances JCPyV Infection”

Anna Briley — UMaine, Honors; Jayasundara Lab (Maine Genomics Research Collaborative)
“Transcriptomic variation underlying pollution resistance in fish”


Undergraduate: third-, fourth- and fifth-year

First place: Lily Charpentier — UMaine, Honors; King Lab
“Characterization of ncf1 mutants in a zebrafish model of innate immune function with human influenza A virus infection”

Second place: Kodey Silknitter — UMaine; King Lab (Maine Genomics Research Collaborative)
“Mechanisms of the hyperinflammatory response to influenza infection”

Third place: Francesca Armstrong — UMaine, Honors; Maginnis Lab
“Utilizing primary astrocytes to characterize the host-trafficking mechanisms that are hijacked during a fatal viral brain infection”


Brittnie Hodsdon — University of Maine at Presque Isle; Feinstein Lab
“Correlations and Discrepancies between the Genotype and Phenotype of 28 Nosocomial Pathogens”

Emma Freeman — UMaine, Honors; Sally Molloy Lab
“The role of the BPs immunity repressor in the regulation of pathogenic Mycobacterium chelonae gene expression”


Graduate Student

First place: Caitlin Waife-Kwakye — UMaine Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
“Investigating the impact of prophages on bacterial fitness in Streptococcus agalactiae”

Second place: Michael Wilczek — UMaine Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
“Determining the road map to JC Polyomavirus infection in primary astrocytes: RNA sequencing reveals important cell signaling pathways activated upon virus infection”

Third place tie: Monique Mills — UMaine GSBSE
“The mechanisms of TAp63-dependent and -independent DNA damage response in meiotically arrested oocytes”

Third place tie: George Murray — UMaine GSBSE
“Assessment of SIPA1L2 as a candidate modifier of CMT1A identified in human GWAS”


Colleen Mayberry — UMaine Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
“Dissecting the role of beta-arrestin in JC polyomavirus internalization”

Brandi-Lee Soos — UMaine Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
“Innate Immune Response to Influenza A Viral Infection in a Zebrafish Model”

Ashley Soucy
— UMaine GSBSE
“RAB27a regulation of exosome function in perivascular adipose tissue”

Jaycee Cushman — UMaine Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
“Characterizing the impact of phage gene products on host fitness and virulence in non-tuberculous pathogenic Mycobacteria”

Gabriel Jensen — UMaine GSBSE
“The Meninges and Choroid Plexus are Prominent mTert-Expressing Adult Stem Cell Niches in the Mouse Brain”

Christine Hale — UMaine GSBSE
“Injury-induced nociceptive sensitization and recovery in Drosophila”