A group from Mary Baldwin University dedicated to nurturing the college’s dedication to undergraduate research traveled recently to Duke University to share their experience.

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Catharine O’Connell, Director of Sponsored Programs and Research Development Lydia Petersson, Associate Professor of Biology Paul Deeble, alumna Margie Bivans, and senior April Lao attended the three-day conference November 11–13, Creativity, Inquiry, and Discovery: Undergraduate Research In and Across the Disciplines, hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities Network for Academic Renewal.

Bivans and Lao shared with conference goers their interdisciplinary research as an effective model for students to understand the breadth and practical application for their work.

Bivans, who graduated in May, presented her senior thesis — work that blended biology and chemistry — which investigated a molecular interaction that could possibly inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

April Lao

Lao’s chemistry project looks at how DNA interacts with small peptides that are important for our immune system function. She found evidence that this DNA/peptide complex may be able to affect the growth and invasive properties of cancer cells.

“The students were selected because of their high level of motivation and outstanding success both academically and in their research,” Deeble said. “They communicate their research in highly articulate ways that would showcase the work we do in the sciences at Mary Baldwin and benefit the students greatly by offering them a national conference at which to present their work.”