Engineering student places first at Shared Knowledge Conference

November 17, 2017 - By Julie Coonrod

What do poop, cancer and snails have in common? They are the topics of the three winners of the LoboBITES competition, held Nov. 8 as part of the Shared Knowledge Conference.

1st place
James Fluke
Characterization of Bacterial Impairment along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque

2nd place
Cristabelle De Souza
Tackling a tumor suppressor gone rogue: Can we OVARcome ovarian cancer?

3rd place
Erin Watson-Chappell
Exploring snail immunology using the common garden snail

Shared KnowledgeFluke, an engineering master’s student from Bernalillo, gave a colloquial account of E. coli concentrations in both the Rio Grande river and the soil, investigating source and transport. Cristabelle, recently transferred from the University of Kansas, explained out how genetics can alter and manipulate cancer-causing mutations, preventing disease progression and reducing cancer health disparities among women. Watson-Chappell, a Las Cruces native and doctoral biology student, explored the immune system of snails, explaining their commercial value in everything from spa treatments to escargot.

Each year, the Shared Knowledge Conference (SKC) celebrates UNM graduate students and their outstanding research and scholarship. The conference provides a venue for students to engage with the UNM and larger New Mexico communities, to cross the borders that too-often divide academia from the larger world, and in so doing spark conversations and collaboration towards a world of equity, innovation, discovery and growth. Previously, the conference was held in the spring; but it has been moved to the fall to allow the winner of the LoboBITE showcase to participate in the annual Western Association of Graduate Schools regional competition, held each spring.

This year, the SKC was held where UNM began, at the historic Hodgin Hall on main campus, serving as an inspiring venue for the memorable event. Poster sessions were spread throughout Hodgin's series of warm, inviting meeting and gathering spaces, providing a unique opportunity for participants and attendees to share ideas and engage dialogues in a distinguished setting. The LoboBITES competition was held in the Bobo Room, a stunning presentation hall on the third floor. It was there that a diverse group of graduate students, from eight of UNM’s colleges, distilled their work into a three-minute sound bite, presented to non-academic, community judges. Three finalists were selected from each of four heats. Video of the final heat, along with student abstracts, can be accessed in the UNM digital repository, or by clicking here.