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Senior Nancy Levensailor wins prestigious award to present poster
Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Senior Nancy Levensailor wins prestigious award to present poster

Nancy Levensailor

Nancy Levensailor has won a national travel award in a competition sponsored by the Genetics Society of America (GSA). Her selection enables the senior Molecular Genetics major to attend and present her poster at the society’s 55th Drosophila Research Conference March 26-30 in San Diego, Calif. Only 11 of 52 undergraduates who applied received the 2014 Victory Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Award, placing her in what the society calls "the top tier of early career geneticists."

Levensailor will present the poster, “Visualization of Sqd-grk Interactions in Live Drosophila Oocytes Using Tri-molecular Fluorescence Complementation (TriFC).” The poster describes the results of two years of her research into developing a new technique to see interactions between regulatory proteins and the RNA for a gene called gurken in living cells. Submitting it to the biology department this spring semester for her Honors Thesis, Levensailor began working on the project during her sophomore year under the guidance of Dr. Scott B. Ferguson.

GSA's Director of Education Beth Ruedi said, "Such innovative research being conducted by undergraduate students is a refreshing indication of great things to come in the future of the genetics community, and Dr. Scott B. Ferguson should be commended for excellent mentoring along with The State University of New York, Fredonia."

The award was created to give undergraduates a rare to present a poster of their research to a worldwide audience. The prestigious award is named after Finnerty, a gifted teacher, research scientist and longtime GSA member.

Levensailor, along with four other SUNY Fredonia students and biology professor Ferguson, will be attending the conference and will hear more than a dozen speakers, including Dr. Bruce Alberts, a prominent biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science education. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California-San Francisco and a former editor-in-chief of the journal Science and will deliver the keynote address.

A National Science Foundation Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions grant will defray travel expenses of Ferguson and the other students.

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