Claflin University junior Tamuka Chidyausiku, center, discusses his research on enzymes with Yale University Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Dr. Corey Wilson at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students last month.
At the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last month, junior Tamuka Chidyausiku was among the handful of students who were recognized for their research in biochemistry.
“It was a huge honor. We definitely weren't expected it to happen,” he said.
ABRCMS attracts a combined 3,300 faculty and students annually from over 350 higher education institutions across the nation. ABRCMS aims to and promote and heighten advanced training for minorities in biomedical and behavioral sciences. The latest conference was held Nov. 9-12 in St. Louis, Missouri. Claflin has participated in the conference since its inception in 2000.
Chidyausiku was one of 14 students at the entire conference who received an award for poster presentations involving biochemistry. He was joined in being honored in this category by students from Harvard University and the University of California-Los Angeles, among others. Chidyausiku is the third Claflin student to receive such an award at ABRCMS, joining Robert Bryant, '09, and Keaira Berry, '10.
Chidyausiku's research aims to help people with lactose intolerance painlessly enjoy a cold glass of milk. He is working under the tutelage of Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Nicholas Panasik on the project.
They are attempting to manipulate enzymes to break down lactose at cold temperatures; a research breakthrough that would lengthen and strengthen the life of dairy products for those who are lactose intolerant. Currently, Chidyausiku is investigating whether or not those changes can be forced to occur in a lab.
After Claflin, he wants to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry at a prestigious graduate school.
Khirston Howard, '10, a biotechnology graduate student from Aiken, attended ABRCMS for the second time this November. She was inspired at the conference to pursue either a M.D. or Ph.D. after finishing her Master of Biotechnology degree at the University.
Howard is investigating the genetic differences between Caucasian and African-American women who have breast cancer. She has found a majority of African-American women with breast cancer have lower levels of zinc in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts.
“The conference has given me the opportunity to strengthen my research skills,” Howard said.