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Mount Students Present at Prestigious Research Conference

4/11/2017

Riverdale, N.Y. – Five Mount Saint Vincent students—Elisa Ferrara ’17, Gabriela Mendoza ’17, Stephanie Rodway ’17, Matthew Vicioso ’17, and Marielle Villanobos ’17—presented their original genetic research at the 58th Annual Drosophila Research Conference from March 29 to April 2 in San Diego, CA.

Sponsored by the Genetics Society of America, the Drosophila Research Conference is the preeminent meeting for Drosophila researchers. Mount biology professor James Fabrizio noted that the College’s students made up a small subset of undergraduates presenting research. “Out of 723 presentations, there were perhaps 20 undergraduate presenters,” he said. “That is very special.”

Dr. Fabrizio is working on a long-term project on male infertility and the genetics of sperm development. Drosophila melanogaster—the common fruit fly—is an ideal subject because of its genetic similarity to humans (60 percent) and its large sperm cells.

Dr. Fabrizio’s research, which is funded through an ongoing National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, has allowed his strongest students to attend the Drosophila Research Conference the last few years. “Part of why I love working at the Mount is my ability to have my own lab and lead students in conducting their own research in a close-knit academic setting,” he said. “The spirit of teamwork and friendship that is built is wonderfully rewarding.”

“I thought the conference was an amazing experience,” said Ms. Rodway, a biology major and honors student. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so privileged to go to a smaller school where trips like this are possible. Not only did I get to go and explore this field of research, but I also got to experience it with my four closest friends.”

“Having the opportunity to participate in the poster presentations, especially as an undergraduate student, was a huge honor,” said Ms. Villanobos, also a biology major and honors student. “The conference allowed us to expand our knowledge beyond our own research. I learned so much just by walking around and asking questions.”

Dr. Fabrizio said that more than a dozen researchers visited the Mount group’s poster. “Some were simply curious, but at least a third of them asked us how we did what we actually accomplished. All were amazed that it was undergraduates who did the work.”

Dr. Fabrizio said he is well on his way to a third student-driven, peer-reviewed research paper on the project, and hopes to complete his research within a year.

About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment and leadership in the 21st century.