Carissa Dunn, a senior biology and chemistry double major at Davis & Elkins College, recently presented a research poster at the 2012 Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science in Seattle, Wash. Dunn was selected to participate in the conference entitled "Science, Technology and Diversity for a Healthy World" after completing a summer cancer research internship at the University of Utah.
In presenting her poster, "Using a Genomic Pathway-Based Drug Screen Approach to Develop a Therapeutic Against Np63 Pathway," Dunn was able to network with peers and mentors in the scientific community. She presented research she completed with Drs. Steve Piccolo, Philip Moos and Andrea Bild of the University's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
"It was a great opportunity," Dunn said. "The university really encouraged me to attend because of my work during the internship."
Her research internship focused on using genomic data to improve cancer drug screening. According to Dunn, this new genomic pathway-based method improves drug screening by targeting pathways and/or phenotypes, not genes.
Her summer internship at the UU was the second research program which Dunn has completed. The previous summer she secured an internship in the biochemistry department at WVU where she worked in a genetics lab. Her paid internship included extensive work in developing procedures for making a lentivirus library using what is known as "hairpin" design.
Dunn explains that all of her research experiences have built upon her D&E foundation. "At first I had thought I'd go to D&E for two years, and then have to transfer to get more in-depth research experience," she said.
Dunn's love of biology began in high school when she first looked into a microscope and "saw a whole new world," she explained. "To me, there's a real wow factor in being in a room filled with scientific equipment. During the internships I was so excited every day to go into the laboratory."
At Davis & Elkins, Dunn has lettered in women's softball for four years, is president of the college's Honor Council, president of Chi Beta Phi National Science Honorary and active in several other student organizations. "Coming to D&E has opened so many doors for me," Dunn said. "All these experiences have provided me with more insight into the real world."
Although originally from Modesto, Calif., she loves Elkins and wants to return to campus after she graduates this May. "I want to continue to be involved with the College," she added. "I can't imagine being away from here too long."