Graduate students sweep state competition for life science research

Three University of Maine graduate students placed as finalists in the 6th annual BioME Student Showcase for life science research. The annual event supports innovation and the commercialization of student ideas in Maine, and allows students the opportunity to network with professionals or connect with entrepreneurial resources. Ten UMaine undergraduate and graduate students were selected to participate in the competition, held April 27 at the University of Southern Maine McGoldrick Center in Portland.

Twenty-eight participated in the showcase across three different categories split by enrollment in high school or in a college undergraduate or graduate program. In order to be considered for the showcase, each student was required to submit an application. 

Among college graduates, Sarah Holbrook placed first for her research titled “A Novel Category of Neuromuscular Disease: A Quest for a Cure”; Lola Holcomb finished second with research titled Developing ‘Microbiome Medicine’ with Broccoli and Bacteria”; and Samantha Costa placed third with “Increased PD-L1 expression in obese mice leads to bone marrow immunosuppression and increases the susceptibility for bone marrow metastases.” All three are UMaine students.

The graduate-level competition is called a “Fast Pitch” and was open to any graduate student enrolled in a Maine academic institution. Participants were required to share their research in a 5 minute pitch to judges with no more than five presentation slides, with the focus angled toward how their research could be commercialized. In-depth Q&A sessions followed their pitches and allowed them to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject. First to third place awards ranged from $2,500 to $700.