Claflin News

Three Claflin University Students Selected for Participate in International Genetics Conference

Jan 19, 2012



From left to right: Victoria Desormeaux, Courtney McClain, Dr. Kamal Chowdhury and Aqeela Mohammed will attend the International Genetics Conference in March.
Three Claflin University students actively engaged in health disparities research have been selected to attend the International Genetics Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on March 19 and 20.
Senior biotechnology major Victoria Desormeaux, junior biology student Courtney McClain and sophomore Aqeela Mohammed will all present their research to some of the most distinguished genetic researchers in the world. Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kamal Chowdhury, noted his students will have an excellent opportunity to both network with top scientific minds and learn more about their craft.

“I am very excited for these visionary young scientists to attend a conference of this magnitude,” said Chowdhury. “They will be exposed to a completely new world.”

The conference annually brings together 200 participants from around the world, along with 60 speakers who address a specific topic in genetics.

Desormeaux is conducting research the viability of sugar cane in producing biofuel, in addition to studying physiology and cancer. The Trinidad and Tobago native said the opportunities she's received at Claflin will allow pursuing her goals of becoming a chiropractor and college professor.

“I expect this conference to broaden my knowledge of genetics,” said Desormeaux.

Mohammed is examining the differences in zinc levels between African-Americans and European Americans. She has found that African-Americans have lower levels of zinc in their prostate tissue, making them more susceptible to cancer. Mohammed hopes her research presentation at the conference will can spark an increased desire among black males to get tested for prostate cancer.

She hopes to get more answers as to why the zinc levels are lower in African-Americans at the conference. “I really want to better understand the genetic background behind it,” Mohammed said.

“This is pretty exciting being just a sophomore to attend an international conference,” said McClain, who is from Florence.

She is investigating the impact of diabetes along the Corridor of Shame, a stretch along Interstate 95 in South Carolina known for poverty and poor health.

President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale lauded the student trio for their research and desire to improve the human condition.

“We at Claflin University aspire to investigate problems and craft solutions in a visionary manner,” said Tisdale. “These students are to be commended for their selfless commitment to causes greater than themselves. They are truly a great testament to the strength of our academy.”


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