Pitzer College Students to Present Scientific Research at National Conference

Brian Cohen PosterClaremont, Calif. (August 9, 2013)—Four Pitzer College students have been selected to give presentations at the Capstone Conference at The Ohio State University’s Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI).  Brian Cohn ’14, Jacob Enslein ’15, Julia Filo ’14 and (Yoni) Samuel Rubin ’15 will present findings from research projects funded by a $3.6 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The conference will be held August 12-16 in Columbus, OH.

Cohn, Enslein, Filo and Rubin are part of the first group of students to receive funding from the 2012 HHMI grant, which provides funds for research and courses that incorporate quantitative and computational approaches to life science at the five Claremont Colleges (5Cs). Students from the 5Cs presented research posters at the W.M. Keck Science Department in July and seven students, including two from Scripps College and one from Claremont McKenna College, were selected by Keck HHMI faculty advisers to submit their presentations to the MBI this year. All were accepted.

Cohn’s research project uses computational methods to generate 3D visual-resolution maps that allow researchers to visualize and compare the eyesight of vertebrates. Cohn is an organismal biology major at Pitzer.

Enslein developed a mathematical model to determine whether the timing of seed germination affects plants’ survival rates.

A biology major, Filo examined the effects of circadian clock rhythm on the leaf growth in Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant often used as a model organism in plant biology.

Rubin, a physics major, studied a species of Californian mite that runs at record-breaking speeds, exploring how the mite’s mobility relates to its body mass.

“These undergraduate students are doing really ambitious things—it’s amazing to see,” said John Milton, professor of computational neuroscience. “Learning to present a scientific conference is a very important skill for a budding scientist. At meetings such as the MBI conference, students are recruited into graduate school programs, meet peers and faculty from other institutions with the same research interests and get ideas for new research projects.”

The Capstone Conference highlights recent work by students doing research in mathematical biology. The conference will also feature talks by prominent mathematical biologists and a graduate school recruitment fair.

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About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About the W.M. Keck Science Department

The W.M. Keck Science Department is the interdisciplinary home to all biology, chemistry, and physics faculty for Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges. The department is administered cooperatively and is housed within an 81,000-square-foot center located at the intersection of the three colleges. The department offers 13 discrete degree options, including dual-degree programs in partnership with schools of engineering and majors in conjunction with disciplines outside the sciences. The W.M. Keck Science Department provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary instruction in small class settings and numerous opportunities for students to conduct research.

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