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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 14, 2006

UI Students Garner Awards At Research Conference

Two University of Iowa undergraduate students received awards for research they presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), held Nov. 8-11 in Anaheim, Calif.

Shameika Wilmington (photo, left) and Wanakee Carr (photo, right) were among the students honored at the conference, which is organized by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Now in its sixth year, ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for biomedical students. More than 2,500 people attended this year's conference, including 1,633 students, 421 faculty and program directors, and 418 exhibitors.

Wilmington, from Davenport, Iowa, is a senior majoring in biochemistry. Her research focused on how proteins (known as LEM) in the nuclear envelope of the cells of Drosophila fruit flies can influence gene expression and cause defects. Wilmington's faculty mentor is Pamela Geyer, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry.

Carr, from Des Moines, Iowa, is a junior majoring in biology. She was recognized for her research on the effectiveness of a new electrochemical water disinfection system. Carr's faculty mentor is Martine Dunnwald, Ph.D., UI research scientist in pediatrics.

ABRCMS is designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and provide faculty mentors and advisors with resources for facilitating students' success.

During the four-day conference, more than 1,100 students participated in poster and oral presentations in nine sub-disciplines in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. All undergraduate student presentations were judged, and those receiving the highest scores in each scientific discipline and in each educational level were given awards during the final banquet. A total of 120 undergraduates received monetary awards of $250 for their outstanding research.

Wilmington and Carr are both scholars in the Iowa Biosciences Advantage (IBA) program at the UI. IBA, funded by an Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity grant from the National Institutes of Health, aims to enhance the academic and research competitiveness of underrepresented minority students at the undergraduate level and facilitate their progress toward careers in the biomedical, behavioral, and biophysical sciences by providing a challenging, supportive and diverse learning environment. Nine IBA scholars from the UI were accepted to present their research at the conference. More information on IBA is available at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,