2007 SURF Highlights

Tenth Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest at UMBC was hosted by the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences for the second year on Wednesday, August 8, 2007. Dean Geoff Summers opened the student-focused research symposium that was held on the 7th Floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery. The event serves as the culminating event for numerous summer research experiences based in the College and featured presentations by a total of 76 summer researchers, who were supported by UMBC, CNMS, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center, JCET , the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, The Leadership Alliance, and the UMBC Graduate School. From near and as a far away as Hungary, 22 presenters were enrolled at UMBC, 44 were enrolled at other higher education institutions and ten were enrolled in high school. Four students were selected to give ten-minute oral talks about their research projects and the rest gave poster presentations in two sessions with nine of the 63 posters presented by more than one author. An estimated 175 people attended the event with standing room only at the afternoon closing ceremony when program directors presented certificates to the participants and Dr. Charles Bieberich presented the 2007 Summer Mentor Award to Dr. V. Michelle Chenault.

Mentor Award for Outstanding Support and Service to UMBC Research Programs

Dr. V. Michelle Chenault has a keen interest in teaching and training future scientists.  During her tenure as an adjunct faculty member, she has served as the research advisor for a Master’s thesis and a Doctoral dissertations, served as an external examiner for two doctoral dissertations, taught medical and graduate students, including the Bioethics courses, conducted training sessions and hands-on workshops for both civilian and military veterinarians, scientists, students and staff.  She is a STEP UP/BSURE Mentor and ensured that several other undergraduates received laboratory placements for summer research experiences. “I’m passionate about mentoring future scientists because the next generation is very important to continuing medical and research progress,” said Dr. Chenault, adding that she hopes to repay the many excellent mentoring opportunities that she received.

As the Associate Director for the FDA Medical Device Fellowship Program, Dr. Chenault serves as the technology transfer representative and the center’s lead contact for Cooperative Research Development Agreements (CRADAs), Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and grants. Her other duties include the establishment of academic and intellectual partnerships.  She came to the FDA in 1994 after teaching over 10 years at universities in Ohio and North Carolina.  She began her career in government in the Center for Devices and Radiological in the Office of Device Evaluation, Division of Clinical Laboratory Devices.  During that time she was the group leader for many complex device reviews and the lead Principal Investigator for the development of an animal model of diabetes, Psammomys obesus.  In 1999, she was selected to be Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology.   During her tenure at OST, she has been chairman of the Center’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and was instrumental in achieving the accreditation of the Laboratory Animal Program.  Dr. Chenault was also appointed chairman of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee for the new multi-center federal research complex.

In addition to Dr. Chenault’s administrative responsibilities, she has served as an adjunct faculty member at numerous institutions.  She is currently adjunct associate professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD.   Dr. Chenault has conducted studies using P. obesus, funded by government partnerships, for over 12 years.  The diabetes studies resulted in a patent issued in 2004 (US Patent 6,721,583 B1 “Method for non-invasive identification of individuals at risk for developing diabetes”, Durkin, Ediger and Chenault).   She is also a visiting scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute for Research in Silver Spring, MD conducting collaborative studies using the sand rat role in the transmission of leishmaniasis.

Dr. Chenault has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN and is a certified Medical Technologist.  She has a Master of Art’s degree in Health Care Education from Central Michigan, University.  She earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology, Department of Comparative Medicine from Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC in 1991.  She has received many awards during her career including: the FDA CBER Honor Award for Leveraging/Collaboration as CDRH CRADA Liaison in 2005, the NCI-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force- Outstanding Contributions to the Joint Training and Collaborative Programs Subcommittee in 2006 and the FDA CDRH Honor Award for Leveraging/Collaboration- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Collaboration Team in 2007.