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Furman science students win big at South Carolina conference

Aerial view of Furman’s bell tower at sunset.

Last updated February 27, 2024

By Tina Underwood

Six Furman University science students took home top prize at a recent statewide competition and symposium, earning distinction in half the categories represented within the research poster event.

The students competed Saturday, Feb. 10, at the SC INBRE Science Symposium in Columbia, South Carolina, an annual event that spotlights biomedical science research from 14 universities, including the three comprehensive research universities in the state – Clemson University, Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina.

a Black woman in coral dress and a white woman in dark suit stand at poster

Dallas Shuman ’25 (left) and Kadence Alexander ’26.

Among about 100 posters presented, Furman students from biology, chemistry and neuroscience earned “best in category” in three of six divisions, bringing home four awards (two Furman teams tied in Neuroscience/Psychology). The categories, winners and their Furman mentors were:

  • Neuroscience/Psychology: Dallas Shuman ’25 and Kadence Alexander ’26 work with Assistant Professor of Psychology Veronica Lee Flores
  • Neuroscience/Psychology: Mindy Isaman ’26 works in the lab of Associate Professor of Biology Linnea Freeman
  • Molecular/Cell Biology: Kobby (Charles) Frempong ’26 collaborates with Associate Professor of Biology Adi Dubash. Frempong tied the category with a student from Presbyterian College.
  • Chemistry/Biochemistry: Abby Stapleton ’24 and Ella Chandler ’25 work with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Meghan Breen
white woman with blond hair stands at poster

Mindy Isaman ’26.

While the recognition across multiple disciplines is commendable, said John Wheeler, associate provost for integrative science, the continuous engagement and representation by Furman at the conference since 2002 is most remarkable.

“With about 25 of us there, including two invited speakers, Linnea Freeman and Veronica Flores, Furman was the best-represented university at the meeting,” Wheeler said. “SC INBRE is a premier NIH-funded program that has helped support the summer undergraduate research efforts of more than 125 Furman students in the last five years alone. Under the current award (2020- 2025) SC INBRE is the source of more than $200,000 annually in biomedical research funding to Furman, on top of independent awards made to Freeman and Flores this past year,” Wheeler said.

a white man speaks with a Black man who is pointing to poster

Kobby (Charles) Frempong ’26 (right).

“We had great representation,” Freeman said. “The conference highlighted the excellent work of our undergraduates and faculty research mentors. I’m especially proud of my student Mindy Isaman for winning an award,” Freeman said, noting Isaman joined her lab the summer after her freshman year.

“Mindy is returning to work in the lab again this summer. She’s hard working and passionate about science, particularly nutrition, which is a focus of our research. It’s exciting when students start their research experience early like Mindy and continue to build their skills and contribute to a big project,” Freeman said.

two white women stand in front of research poster

Ella Chandler ’25 (left) and Abby Stapleton ’24.

Wheeler said Furman’s healthy showing at the meeting in multiple disciplines is important for funding down the road.

“This year, the roughly $20 million, five-year competitive renewal for continued funding will be submitted to NIH from South Carolina,” Wheeler explained. “Last fall, Furman competed as one of the undergraduate institutions to be included in the South Carolina funding application to NIH to be submitted later this year. Demonstrating the scope of our engagement at the statewide INBRE meeting is one clear way to showcase our commitment and excellence as a SC INBRE partner, including significantly contributing in a very quantifiable way to the nearly 100 student submissions at this meeting.”

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