The Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS) at MIT held its annual poster session on April 10 in the lobby of Building 13. The session highlighted the work of the environmental health research communities of MIT and some of its peer institutions. Over 50 posters were presented from the science and engineering laboratories affiliated with CEHS, the MIT Superfund Research Program, and the Department of Biological Engineering. As an experiment, this year the new MIT Superfund Research Program joined with CEHS in the poster session. The national Superfund program focuses on chemicals and local environments that are the most heavily contaminated by environmental pollution.
The CEHS has an overall mission to study the biological effects of exposure to environmental agents in order to understand, and predict, how such exposures affect human health. Moreover, by uncovering the chemical, biochemical, and genetic bases for environmental disease, sometimes researchers are able to leverage that understanding to delay or even prevent the development of disease in human populations. To that end, the center brings together 44 MIT members from a total of 11 MIT departments (in both the School of Science and the School of Engineering) plus one faculty member from the Broad Institute.
This year’s CEHS cash prizes are awarded in two categories, graduate students and postdocs. For each category, the prize for first-place is $1,000, second-place prize is $500, and the third-place prize is $200 plus CEHS memorabilia. The cash prizes were made possible by the Myriam Marcelle Znaty Research Fund, which was established over 30 years ago to support the research of young scientists at MIT.
Undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and research staff presented the results of their research at MIT's Building 13.
Anna I. Ponomarenko from Professor Matthew Shoulders’ lab won first place in the graduate student category. Ponomarenko presented her work on the “Host Chaperones Potentiate a Pathogenic Influenza Nucleoprotein Variant.” She shared this prize with her co-authors, Angela Phillips and Kenny Chen. In second place is George L. Sun from Professor Angela Belcher’s lab, who presented his work on “Using Yeast to Remediate Heavy Metals from Contaminated Waters and Soils.” Third place went to Lauren Stopfer, from Professor Forest White’s lab; Stopfer presented her work on “Treatment-Modulated Antigens: A Quantitative Approach to Identify Changes in MHC Peptide Repertoires.”
In the postdoc category, first place went to Helene Angot from Professor Noelle Selin’s lab, who presented on “Toxic Pollutants: From Worldwide Atmospheric Emissions to Impacts on Maine Tribal Areas.” Angot’s poster is also a joint Superfund Research Program poster. Second place went to Ben Crawford, from Professor Jesse Kroll’s lab, who presented his work on “Building a Low-Cost, Community-based Sensor Network in Hawai’i to Measure Volcanic Air Pollution.” And the third place prize went to Mary Andorfer, from Professor Catherine Drennan’s lab, who presented her work on “Taming Radical Enzymes through Directed Evolution and Structural Analysis.”