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UVI Students Win Awards at Biomedical Conference

Dec. 1, 2005 – Two students from the University of the Virgin Islands won best poster awards at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held in November in Atlanta, Georgia. UVI chemistry major Jeffrey Purcell won the best poster award for a senior in the field of chemical sciences. Math major Alexia Mintos won the best poster award for a junior in the field of quantitative sciences.
Purcell's poster presentation was based on research he conducted during the past summer at the University of Mississippi. The title of his project was Determining the Bioactivity of a Marine Sponge Extract Against Leishmania. His research involved extracting and isolating a compound from a green encrusting sponge found in Brewers Bay and using it for its microbial properties to cure Leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted to humans by sand flies. Dr. Jennifer Carroll is Purcell's UVI mentor.
Mintos based her poster presentation on research she conducted at a summer program at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research involved using fluorescent microscopy images to locate protein patterns in cells for better understanding of the function of normal cells.
"Coming out with a prize is very good for them," said Teresa Turner, Ph.D., a UVI marine biology professor. "Every time they apply for grad school or for a job, it gets to go on their resume," she said.
Turner is also the UVI program director for the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Purcell and Mintos each received a $250 prize.
The conference attracted more than 1,000 students representing 700 institutions from across the nation. A total of 19 UVI students from UVI St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses attended. Along with making and listening to presentations, the students met with alumni from the UVI Science and Mathematics program. They included Dr. Nadia St. Luce, Dr. Triscia Wharton Hendrickson and Dr. Granville Wrensford.

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