Four USM students win awards for biomedical research


The 2015 Southeast Regional IDeA Conference, which was hosted in Biloxi in early November, provided individuals opportunities to showcase their work in biomedical research.

This particular conference includes six states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia) and Puerto Rico, and consists of over 250 researchers. The University of Southern Mississippi claimed 27 spots of those 250 researchers, four of whom received awards for their biomedical research. The four students who received the biomedical research awards, and accumulated prize money reaching $1,700, are Justin Batte, Britton Strickland, Mosharrof Mondal and Partha Sengupta.

Professor of biological sciences Mohamed Elasri described the conference as “a great showcase for research and for what we do in Mississippi.” The winning students were judged by a committee comprised of people from multiple states, and yet four USM students managed to take home first, second and third-place prizes.

Batte is currently working toward his Ph.D. under Elasri and has been for quite some time now. In fact, Batte previously won this same award two years ago under Elasri. This year, Batte’s research project focused on staph infection.

“I was very honored being a second-time winner of this award at the SE-IDeA meeting,” Batte said. “It really brings things into perspective when considering the hard work that has went into planning and conducting the everyday research. Winning an award in competitions like this against people in similar research areas as yourself is very (rewarding), knowing that all the hard work put in is evident.”

Strickland was one of the undergraduate winners. His research was on a specific gene regulator that helps control the amount of certain proteins the human body makes. This was Strickland’s first award concerning his research.

“It was unexpected because there was just first, second (and) third place for the conference,” Strickland said. “So getting first place was an awesome honor to have people think that the research I’m doing is significant.”

The IDeA conference is sponsored by the University of Mississippi Medical Center and funded by the National Institute of Health, which helps fund biomedical research. This program funds 23 states.