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Juniata International Student Wins Prestigious Science Award

(Posted March 25, 2013)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Clarissa Diniz, an international student at Juniata College from Recife, Brazil studying biology, received the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Award for Best Poster Presentation at the New England Science Symposium March 2, held at Harvard University.

Diniz, the daughter of Paulo Roberto Diniz Oliveira and Maria José Ribeiro Diniz, of Recife, Brazil, a junior at Juniata, received the award for a poster explaining a research project she worked on as part of the Undergraduate Student Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine in summer 2012. Hers was one of 171 poster presentations by postdoctoral researchers, doctoral candidates, graduate students and undergraduate students.
The poster explained her work in the lab of Jonathan Katz, assistant professor of medicine at the university, on the analysis of how the deletion of a specific protein from the epithelial cells within the esophagus affected the esophageal microenvironment.

"The faculty goes out of their way to help us. My chemistry adviser has written 20 letters of recommendation for me. The supportive environment here is amazing."
Clarissa Diniz, Juniata student from Recife, Brazil


The New England Science Symposium is an annual forum for science students across the country, particularly for African-American, Hispanic or Native American students, to share research activities. The symposium has been an annual event since 2002. She received a Juniata College Student Travel Scholarship and a Juniata College Champions of Diversity mini-grant to attend the conference.
"Juniata has transformed me," Diniz says. "I came here as a biology major and only wanted to take biology classes until I took a communication class to fulfill a Juniata requirement and then I took an Organic Chemistry course to complete my pre-medicine perquisites. Now I have a Biology POE with a dual secondary emphasis in Chemistry and Communication, an unusual combination that has allowed me to learn more about myself and what I love. The faculty goes out of their way to help us. My chemistry adviser has written 20 letters of recommendation for me. The supportive environment here is amazing. I had different faculty look over my resume and several classmates look over my poster. At Juniata, professors and classmates alike really care."

Diniz has extensive experience as an undergraduate researcher. In addition to her summer stint at the University of Pennsylvania, she returned to the lab to continue her work during the 2012-2013 winter break, and will work again in the lab this summer.
During the Juniata academic year, she also works as an organic chemistry researcher for Richard Hark, professor of chemistry at Juniata. She works on the synthesis of ninhydrin molecules. Ninhydrin is a reagent for visualizing latent fingerprints on porous surfaces.

In summer 2011, Diniz worked six weeks as a clinical research intern at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, part of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her research focused on exploring the relationship between labor induction and shoulder dystocia. Later that summer, she also spent six weeks as an intern and volunteer coordinator in the gastroenterology department at Montreal General Hospital, associated with the McGill University Health Centre.

She also finds time to be active on campus. She is president of the junior class of 2014, and is a Bonner Leader, a community service volunteer. She also works as a Juniata Associate for the college's Global Village Initiative, where she acts as a liaison between participants in the program and the college administrators, organizes intercultural events and supervises program coordinators.

She writes a health column, "Understanding Healthy Living," for The Juniatian, Juniata's student newspaper. She also is a member of Tri-Beta, the biological honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.