FAU Broward Student Research Symposium

8th Annual Broward Student Research Symposium

FAU Broward students Saheed Oluwasina Oseni, Tasso Cocoves, and Tolbey Bain emerged as winners of the Eighth Annual Broward Student Research Symposium held Friday, March 16, 2018 at the FAU Davie campus. The annual student research symposium provides researchers in the categories of doctoral, masters and undergraduate the opportunity to present their projects and the selection of the best in its class by a panel of judges comprised of faculty and staff. Students representing five different Colleges, guided by their faculty mentors, participated in this year’s event.

Broward Student Research Symposium Winners

"The 2018 Broward Student Research Symposium again highlighted the outstanding work our FAU students are doing under the mentorship of the exceptional FAU faculty. The diversity of projects presented reflects some of the cutting-edge work being done at FAU," said Dr. Donald Torok, Associate Dean, College of Education, Broward Campuses, who also served as the emcee and host of the event. “The event provided students with the opportunity to explain their work with some of the following topics: identification of drugs for prostate cancer research, teaching children with autism and insight into professional development for STEM teachers, comparison of language development in monolingual and bilingual children, the use of augmented reality in architectural design, and the influence of changing environmental factors on bird populations in the Everglades. All of the students that participated in this event were able to convey to the public their understanding of complex topics in a very understandable manner. They are building their skills to be our next generation of future leaders."

Broward Student Research Symposium Winners

In the doctoral category, Saheed Oluwasina Oseni, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science won for his project: Role of Pathogen-induced Inflammation on Prostate Cancer Stemness and Recurrence: A Bioinformatics Approach. His faculty mentor is Dr. James Kumi-Diaka.

"Cancer recurrence is becoming a nightmare to Oncologists and high-risk cancer patients or survivors worldwide. The aggressiveness and lack of adequate treatment methods for recurring cancer have further contributed to the exponential increase in depression, constant fear of relapse, and deaths among cancer survivors,” said Oseni. “My research is focused on developing ways to target and prevent cancer recurrence, and identify clinically significant factors that can aggravate or inhibit this phenomenon. In the current research, I am interested in modeling and determining the interplay between pathogen-induced inflammation and prostate cancer stemness or recurrence in prostate cancer survivors or patients using bioinformatics and experimental approaches. My preliminary data suggest that pre-exposure to some pathogen-associated molecular ligands from common urinary tract infection (UTIs) and sexually transmitted disease (STDs)-causing microbes are capable of modulating anticancer therapeutic outcome, and at the same time have the potential to activate or inhibit stem-like properties or recurrence of prostate cancer in a time and dose dependent manner. In future research, I will seek to further understand the molecular mechanisms behind this association and explore the impact of undiagnosed or asymptomatic UTIs and STDs on prostate cancer stemness and recurrence both in vitro and in vivo, with the hope of developing novel therapeutic and prophylactic techniques to treat or prevent prostate cancer recurrence, respectively."

Broward Student Research Symposium Winners

In the master’s category, Tasso Cocoves, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, won for his project: Nesting White Ibis Prey Composition of Coastal Colonies in Everglades National Park . His faculty mentor is Dr. Nathan Dorn.

"White Ibis are one of several wading bird species used to indicate successful restoration of the Everglades ecosystem,” Cocoves said. “While prey composition of nesting White Ibis has been quantified in northern and central regions of the ecosystem, it is largely unknown what prey White Ibis are using to provision nestlings in the southern region (Everglades National Park). My research aims to fill this knowledge gap between White Ibis and their prey in a formerly productive region of the ecosystem. By identifying prey types important to ibis during the breeding period, we hope to inform ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts of these trophic relationships. The trajectory of my research is to eventually identify and explore what prey types Ibis need for successful nesting throughout the Everglades."

In the undergraduate category, Tolbey Bain, an undergraduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, won for her project: Targeting the Crosswalk between Diabetes and Prostate Cancer with Metformin and Genistein Isoflavone Combination Regimen . Her faculty mentor is Dr. James Kumi-Diaka.

Broward Student Research Symposium Winners

"Diabetes and cancer are among the top ten causes of deaths in the United States. Since recent reports have shown a connection between both diseases in cancer patients or survivors, identifying the link between the two diseases will be necessary in preventing the afflictions caused by each disease,” said Bain.  “In our research, we are interested in developing combination regimens that could be of importance in treating cancer patients with high risk of developing diabetes and vice versa. Currently, we are exploring the synergism between two well-known antidiabetic and anticancer drugs, and hope to develop a novel method of prophylactic treatment for individuals with or at a high-risk of developing cancer recurrence and/or diabetes. Finally, I would like to acknowledge my peer mentor (Saheed Oluwasina Oseni) and faculty mentor (Dr. James Kumi-Diaka) for their moral and technical supports, and the opportunity to work with them on this project."

FAU Broward Associate Provost Anthony Abbate praised all of the participants and said: "The measures that advance FAU as a major public research university are demonstrated once again by the high quality doctoral, graduate and undergraduate research projects that were presented today."

For more information about the event, listen to this segment by National Public Radio affiliate station WLRN-FM/91.3.

Note: For more information about the event, please contact Roberto Santiago, Community Engagement & Communications Officer.