News Release| Emerging Researchers National Conference; Cal State L.A.

Notes to editors and news directors:

A photo of Lauren A. Conn is available for download here: http://colellaphoto.com/ERN/Saturday/Sat%20Awards%20Presentations/content/ERN_1347_large.html

CSULA student’s ‘emerging research’ garners first place at national conference

Conn’s poster presentation focuses on rehab for spinal cord injury

Los Angeles, CA -- With approximately 1,275,000 Americans living with some form of spinal cord injury each year, Cal State L.A.’s kinesiology senior Lauren A. Conn (Atwater Village resident) said, “[Our] research could help lead to better rehabilitation and physical therapies for spinal cord injured individuals.”

Picture of Lauren Conn.

Conn’s research project was recently recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Conn—a participant of CSULA’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)—received first place in the biology category at the AAAS/NSF Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The honor was for her poster presentation, entitled “Effect of Combining Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training with Functional Electrical Stimulation in Spinally Contused Rats.”

Working in CSULA Professor Ray de Leon’s Spinal Plasticity Lab, Conn is analyzing the local expression of neurotrophic factors in the spinal cord to determine if the therapies affected neural circuits involved in walking.

On receiving the prize, Conn said, “I felt so honored to accept an award on behalf of all the hard work that we do in lab.”

She added, “Seeing how engaged and passionate students were when presenting their research inspired me to continue with my research and further my education.”

Conn, who joined the LSAMP program in the 2009-2010 academic year, plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science in June 2011. She hopes to pursue graduate studies and, ultimately, obtain a Ph.D.

Margaret Jefferson, coordinator of CSULA’s LSAMP and professor of genetics, said, “I am exceedingly proud of her accomplishments and determination to become a leading expert in her discipline. In addition to the research that she does with Dr. de Leon in the CSULA Spinal Plasticity Lab, she also volunteers at the USC physical therapy lab and she tutors sixth grade math and English.”

The 2011 ERN Conference in STEM aims to help undergraduate and graduate students to enhance their science communication skills and to better understand how to prepare for science careers in a global workforce. More than 300 LSAMP students from all over the nation—including CSULA mechanical engineering major Amy Wat and about 200 students from other STEM programs—were selected to attend the conference in Washington, DC.

Wat, who is involved with research in CSULA Chemistry Professor Frank Gomez’s lab, gave an oral presentation, entitled “Direct and Competitive Binding Assays on Microfluidic Platforms,” at the three-day conference.

Cal State L.A. has the largest undergraduate component of the CSU-LSAMP program, serving approximately 500 undergraduates. CSULA has also been selected as the site for the graduate component of LSAMP for five of the eight funded two-year cohorts. The graduate program is called the LSAMP -Bridge to the Doctorate (LSAMP-BD) and each cohort funds 12 students for two years starting each fall term. Students are expected to finish their master’s in two years and enter a Ph.D. program in STEM.

For more about the CSULA-LSAMP: /centers/moreprograms/lsamp.html.

For info on the CSU-LSAMP: http://www.csus.edu/csu-lsamp/index.htm.

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