Mickelene Hoggard, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, studies snail spit and its potential therapeutic and pharmacological benefits. Of particular interest is the highly potent venom — or spit — of the cone snail species. Deployed by the snail to stun and capture invertebrate prey, the converted spit might one day be used for treating people with cancer, addiction, diabetes or chronic pain. The fast-acting venom is especially potent for receptors in the human nervous and immune system.
As part of her dissertation, Hoggard distilled years of research on the potentially life-saving properties of cone snail venom, creating a concise and compelling presentation for the Three Minute Thesis Competition — hosted locally by FAU. The international competition, held at more than 170 universities, fosters research communication skills.
Hoggard landed first place, receiving a total of $3,500, and the chance to compete regionally in Annapolis, Md. Her success has led to an internship in a marine lab at the National Institute of Standards in Technology in Charleston, S.C.