December 9, 2022

Cheyney University Symposium Highlights Students Working to Become Future Leaders in STEM

Cheyney University Symposium Highlights Students Working to Become Future Leaders in STEM

After a hiatus due to COVID-19, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania hosted its first poster session since 2019 during the first ever STEM Symposium co-sponsored by the Life Science & Technology Hub (LSAT Hub) and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). The STEM Symposium highlighted undergraduate research and internship activities facilitated by the university’s business and institutional partners.  Students who are working to become future leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) demonstrated that they are thriving in this industry through the poster session and student intern panel.

The two-day symposium also included a STEM Professionals Panel featuring staff representing many of Cheyney’s on-campus partners that are part of the LSAT Hub located in the school’s Science Center and off campus internship hosts. Eleven students created posters to showcase what they learned as they worked alongside STEM professionals and one student created a poster explaining her law internship experience. (a complete list of students and their topics is included below)

The posters were evaluated by faculty, staff, and campus partners on how well they executed the required format, how thorough and concise their explanations were, and how well they were able to explain their work when questioned.

Michael Ikpe, a Senior Biology, Pre-Med major & 1st place winner of the Poster Presentations

Michael Ikpe’s presentation on his research with T cells while interning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wherry Lab as a RISE intern in partnership with the Parker Institute for Immunotherapy (PICI) earned him the first-place honor. Ikpe, a Senior Biology, Pre-Med major, is also active with Cheyney’s LSAT Hub.

He described his internship at the Wherry Lab as one of the most exciting, fulfilling experiences he has ever encountered.

“I was looking for an opportunity like an internship that could help my career path into the medical field,” said Ikpe. “When I started working in the lab, I had very little knowledge of research and immunology, but my mentors were more than happy to educate and train me during my internship.”

Ikpe’s research focused on T cell exhaustion which is a consequence of cancer. He created exhausted CD8 T cells in a dish by mimicking the conditions that can naturally cause exhaustion in the body of an organism.

“I intend to continue my research to dive deeper into the exhausted T cells to determine what transcription factors drive their various cytokine and chemokine productions,” said Ikpe. “I want to pursue a career in the medical field and understand the immune system, which is the body’s main defense against pathogens, helping give a better perspective on how medicine works in general.”

Representatives from various campus partners share knowledge at the STEM professionals panel.

Cheyney partners with several companies that provide paid, hands-on internship opportunities. Cheyney students work directly with these companies, applying classroom learning to invaluable real-world experience in their respective industries.  The student intern panel provided aspiring interns with insight and advice from upperclassmen who shared lessons learned from their experiences and offered tips for those seeking to follow in their footsteps. STEM professionals spoke to students about careers where they can apply their newly acquired skills and the opportunities their companies offer for internships, research, and jobs. The professionals represented industries such as healthcare, finance, research, education, and scientific instrumentation.

“As we spoke more with students about their experiences, we realized that they had learned some very important lessons, both about themselves and about the fields they were working in,” said Vanessa Atkins, Director of Cheyney’s LSAT Hub. “So, we decided that their peers could benefit from hearing from them and added a student intern panel to the agenda, as well. We wanted to celebrate as many students as possible and acknowledge everyone’s hard work as a closing for the event.”

Ikpe explained that being featured in the symposium was an honor and a bit nerve racking.  “As I explained my poster and research to people, I became more comfortable because I really do enjoy talking about science,” he said.

“Coming first at the poster presentation was the icing on the cake and I owe it all to my peers and the judges,” he said. “I hope we inspired a new crop of scientists with the symposium as we need more people of color in science.”

“Opportunities for students to present in forums like this, allow us as faculty to interact more with the students, helping them to understand how to interpret and present data in a professional manner,” explained Dr. Steven Hughes, Professor and Director of Aquaculture Research & Education Laboratory.

The students who participated in the science competition included:

Name Topic Internship Site
Natalie  Brown Efficacy of a small molecule inhibitor of KrasG12D in immunocompetent models of pancreatic cancer PICI – Penn Medicine (RISE program partnership)
Michae Ikpe In-vitro Model of T cell Exhaustion PICI – Penn Medicine (RISE program partnership)
Chalante Thompson Generation of an ICAM-1 deficient cell line for in vitro and in vivo characterization of therapeutic antibodies Navrogen
Ositadimma Ugwuanyi Antibiotics And Its Effect on Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Efficacy PICI – Penn Medicine (RISE program partnership)
Kayla Cross Impact of Hydroponic solution pH on growth of Lactuca Sativa Dr. Steven Hughes, AREL
Alieya Crawford Effects of Lighting on Lactuca Sativa Growth and Development Dr. Steven Hughes, AREL
Dezhane Sealy The Effect of feeding rate on release waste of

Nitrogen and Phosphorous by Nile Tilapia

Dr. Steven Hughes, AREL
Kishore Owusu Hexadecane Characterization of Biochemicallly Engineered Yarrowia lipolytica Species for Higher Hydrophobic Substrate Catalytic Breakdown mn University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (ASI Intern)
Mohamedanwar Idress The Effect of Early-life Socioeconomic Status and Genetics in the Development of Alzheimer’s Disease in Humans: A System Review University of Pittsburgh
Nancy Serafin Lopez Dried Blood Spot Sampling and the HPLC System SURE Biochem
Justin McGriff Using Python To Create Graphic Representations of Data Forecasts for Nasdaq Nasdaq
Rukayat Sulaiman Personal Injury Law Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, Los Angeles

Missed the STEM Symposium? Check out our highlight below!