Fast Talkers: ECU Students Pitch Research Projects in 180 Seconds or less

(EDITOR'S NOTE: “The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has been pleased to sponsor ‘Capture 180’ for several years,” says Mark Phillips, NCBiotech’s vice president of statewide operations and executive director of the Eastern Office in Greenville. “This is a great competition that offers undergraduate and graduate students a venue to pitch their wonderful ideas to a panel of judges, while also allowing them to demonstrate their communication and delivery skills in a very time-focused event.” -- Reprinted with permission from ECU)

It’s called “Capture 180.” The requirements are for undergraduate students who are doing mentored research to describe their projects in three minutes or less, using one visual aid.

Felicia Jaimes
Felicia Jaimes presents her bacteria research at the Capture 180 Research Challenge.
-- Photo by Cliff Hollis

That’s it.

It might sound simple, but it isn’t. However, some East Carolina University students made it look that way at the 2019 edition Nov. 6 at the Main Campus Student Center. Four judges evaluated them on comprehension, content, engagement and communication.

Naimi Pothiwala, a sophomore public health major from Apex, received the Grand Champion Award for her project, “New Cell Who Dis? How Differentiation Remodels the Mitochondrial Network in Leukemia: Identifying metabolic vulnerabilities in leukemia using discovery-based biochemistry, setting the stage for a drug that specifically attacks only cancerous cells.”

Naimi Pothiwala, left, and Dana Shefet
Naimi Pothiwala, left, and Dana Shefet .
-- Photo by Kristen Martin

“It just feels like all the work and all the support I’ve gotten just paid off,” said Pothiwala, who’s also an EC Scholar and Honors College student. “Leukemia is a huge issue in North Carolina. Blood cancer is all over your body. There’s no surgery that can cure that.”

Her mentor was Kelsey Fisher-Wellman, assistant professor of physiology at the Brody School of Medicine. They are working on publishing the research, and Pothiwala will present at the N.C. Undergraduate Research Conference on Nov. 23 at Duke University.

Public health student Dana Shefet received the People’s Choice Award for her presentation, “Your Child is Overweight, Now What? Improving Head Start parents understanding of best practices for promoting healthy weight among preschoolers.” Shefet is also an EC Scholar and Honors College student. Her mentor was Virginia Stage, associate professor of nutrition science.

Capture 180 is based on the 3MT, or Three-Minute Thesis, competition for graduate students that began in Australia and has spread to schools in the U.S., including ECU.

“We have a goal now at ECU to have the most students doing mentored research in the UNC System” said Mary Farwell, assistant vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement at ECU. As of 2018, about 1 in 5 ECU seniors said they had worked on a mentored research project outside of a required class assignment, Farwell said.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center sponsored the event

Here are the other presenters and their topics:

  • “Acinetobacter baumannii biofilm response regulator BfmR: The goo with an on/off switch,” Felicia Jaimes, chemistry; John Cavanagh and Richele Thompson, mentors

  • “PV interconnection within Beaufort County: Power grid layout within Beaufort County showing how the photovoltaic farms are connected to the grid,” Daniel Krieger, engineering; JT Filho, mentor

  • “Media and fraud: Accounting and accountability: How does media attention impact individual’s propensity to commit fraud?” Taylor Chappell, accounting; Linda Quick, mentor

  • “Patient-specific 3D-printed models for perioperative planning: Exploring the impact of 3D printing in health care with patient-specific models,” Anuj Sanghvi, engineering; Barbara Muller-Borer, mentor

  • “Most effective study methods for high-stakes tests: The CPA exam: Preparing students for success by overcoming low CPA exam pass rates,” Rachel Hull, accounting; Linda Quick, mentor

Accounting major Rachel Hull
Accounting major Rachel Hull presents her research on effective study methods for
the CPA exam at the Capture 180 undergraduate research event. -- Photo by Cliff Hollis

Judges for the event were Toya Jacobs, diversity and inclusion program manager in the Office for Equity and Diversity; Jessica Melowski, assistant director of the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center; Keith Wheeler, ECU executive director of national security and industry initiatives; and Rob Weatherly, ECU human resources consultant.

In the afternoon, the graduate students commenced their presentations in the sixth annual ECU 3MT event at the student center. Thirty-three presented, and Peter Kann, who’s working on his master’s in biology, was grand champion with his presentation, “In the Belly of the Beast: Exploring the Evolutionary Relationship Between Pitcher Plant Flies and the Carnivorous Plants they Call Home.” Professor Trip Lamb was his mentor.

Another biology student, Mallory de Araujo Miles, won the People’s Choice award for her presentation, “Color outside the genes: What genes give poison dart frogs their brilliant colors, and why should you care?” Her mentor was Kyle Summers.

The biology department received the 3MT Departmental Cup for its top three presenters having the highest combined score.

Doug Boyd, ECU University Communications
Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:01