Student earns top undergraduate research award

LONG BEACH - Florante Ricarte of Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) won the Glenn M. Nagel Undergraduate Research Award at the 23rd annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium.Ricarte, who completed his bachelor of science degree in biology with an option in cell and molecular biology in December, presented a research poster titled "Novel genes ENV7, ENV9-11 were uncovered in a genome-wide screen in S. cerevisiae and are involved in vacuolar biogenesis, trafficking and function." He studied in the lab of Editte Gharakhanian, a professor of biological sciences who is an expert on how proteins and other materials are transported within cells. She and her students use baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to study how matter within a cell is transported to an area called the lysosome, which helps degrade and remove unwanted material. Defects in this process can lead to several diseases such as Tay-Sachs. Her research, including the work presented by Ricarte, is currently supported by grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). Last November, Ricarte also won a best poster award in cell biological sciences at the national Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Charlotte, N.C., sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and managed by the American Society for Microbiology. "Florante has a contagious enthusiasm for cell biology research, is a meticulous experimentalist, and has a strong work ethic," Gharakhanian said. "These traits make mentoring him a true joy." "I feel very honored to be the first CSULB student to win the Nagel Award," Ricarte said. "Dr. Gharakhanian is an exceptional mentor and has played a tremendous role in my academic career. My work in her lab is just a brief representation of the research at CSULB and I hope that this award will shed light on the exciting work being done here." Florante has applied to several Ph.D. programs and plans to begin his doctorate this fall. The award for excellence in undergraduate research, which includes a $1,750 prize, honors Glenn M. Nagel, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Cal State Long Beach and a former biochemistry professor at Cal State Fullerton, who died in 2003. The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) hosts the two-day symposium to make connections between innovative life science research and its impacts on society, to highlight cutting-edge biotechnologies and to inspire students for success. CSU students network with biotech professionals working in academia, government and industry, and faculty share research results, discuss educational best practices and meet potential collaborators from other campuses and industry. This year, CSU students and faculty presented a record 239 research posters, representing faculty-led biotechnology research programs across the system, many funded by CSUPERB, NIH and NSF.

********** Published: January 27, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 41