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Biology sophomore selected as top finalist

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October 31, 2017

Saamera AwaliIn her freshman year, Saamera Awali, a Biology major, joined Dr. Rachelle Belanger’s research lab studying the effects of pesticides on crayfish.  During the past summer, they collaborated with Dr. Jacob Kagey and Monir Mardini collecting tissues and running comet assays, looking at DNA damage. Now, in her sophomore year, her research was selected as a top finalist for the Raymond B. Huey Award from the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s Division of Ecology and Evolution (DEE).

Awali’s abstract was one of six selected by judges from the DEE to compete for the Huey Award.  There were more than fifty undergraduate and graduate abstract submissions for the international conference.

“Being selected as a top finalist for the Huey Award means a lot to me,” said Awali.  “It’s always great to see your hard work pay off, and I am absolutely honored.  I have a long way to go still, but recognitions like this along the way can only encourage and motivate me.”

Awali entered Detroit Mercy with the intention of becoming a dentist.  She gained valuable scientific and biological knowledge through her laboratory experience.

“Researching as an undergraduate increases your knowledge prior to graduate school,” said Awali.  “The experience you gain from researching is relatable to most real-world health professions, so you have an advantage over others in your career choice.  Plus, it looks good on applications.”

In addition to her abstract being selected for the competition, Awali won a very competitive travel award to attend the San Francisco conference from the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).

“Coming to Detroit Mercy was the best decision I ever made,” she said.  “I met amazing people, made connections with great professors doing research and broadened my knowledge.”

Awali will be presenting her research, “Atrazine exposure causes DNA damage and changes in cytochrome P450 expression in the hepatopancreas of crayfish (Orconectes virilis)” at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in early January.

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