MSU ASCEND Students Enjoy Summer of Health Research

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Morgan State University (MSU) ASCEND undergraduate students, including Summer Research Institute participants, ASCEND Scholars, Student Research Center members, and others, are involved in a variety of health research activities this summer.

Twenty-one undergraduate students are participating in the 2018 ASCEND Summer Research Institute (SRI). The participants are learning concept mapping techniques to help them plan and develop their own research proposals.

Three students, Eric Sims, Sydney Simpson, and Oluchi Elendu, presenting as part of the SRI.


Thelma Ejimofor

ASCEND Scholar Thelma Ejimofor is participating in two internship programs this summer with the Texas State Department of Health Services. She is serving as an intern to Texas’s Title V Maternal and Child Health. In this role, she will identify specific methods for developing an intervention plan for the project “Safe Sleep Messaging,” including partner roles and responsibilities, activities, timeline, budget and management considerations. (“Safe Sleep Messaging” is one of the 15 MCH National Performance Measures to reduce the number of infants who become victims of SUID/SIDS.) She will prepare literature reviews, develop materials and communication strategies to support implementation of the intervention plan, and communicate implementation strategies to community public health partners, key decision makers, and stakeholders.

ASCEND Scholar Thelma Ejimofor

Ejimofor is also participating in the Blue-Ribbon Internship, and is one of only four undergraduate participants within this primarily graduate-student-oriented program. She will participate in practical application of theories and concepts learned in the academic environment in a real-world public health organization. She will be exposed to the broader landscape and functions of the state public health department through scheduled activities, and deliver a final project presentation to the Texas Department of Health Services.


India Harper

India Harper is spending the summer working in the Morgan State University Psychology department, learning how to conduct an electroencephalogram (EEG). She is creating an EEG manual for those at the university wanting to use the EEG for research, and will be leading a seminar in the fall on how to use the EEG.

India Harper working with the electroencephalogram (EEG).


Kayla Huffman

Kayla Huffman’s summer adventure is taking place at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she is participating in the BUILD a Bridge to STEM internship program. She is working in the lab of Dr. Mark Marten (professor and chair of the  chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering department), guided by and working on research with an advanced Ph.D. student, Cindy Chelius. The research project focuses on genes that are involved in wall-repair signaling in cells. The purpose of the research is to increase relevant knowledge available for the biotechnology industry.


Kayla Huffman working with colleagues at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Naimat Ajilore

Naimat Ajilore is studying DNA barcoding using mitochondrial DNA extraction. The identity of two fish will be represented by their DNA barcode. A series of buffers (lysis, resuspension, and neutralization) is used to extract DNA from the fish sample. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) then amplifies the Cytochrome c oxidase 1 (CO1) gene from the extracted DNA. The samples are colored using a dye, then run through an agarose gel. When the samples get sequenced, the CO1 barcode will be assembled using the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). BOLD will identify the type (scientific and common name) of fish DNA that was sequenced. This will eventually prove whether the fish samples used are indeed the same genus/species that was named or predicted.

Fish that will undergo DNA barcoding


Angela Roberson

Angela Roberson is spending part of her summer doing nutrition presentations on healthy eating in and around Baltimore. Last month, she presented at the Langston Hughes Community Business Resource Center.

Angela Roberson teaching about healthy eating at the Langston Hughes Community Center.


The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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