PHP senior, Katie Powell, awarded ASIP research grant

Michigan State University microbiology senior Katie Powell received a Summer Research Opportunity Program in Pathology (SROPP) grant from the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

The primary objective of the ASIP SROPP is to promote the entry of undergraduate students into basic and translational research laboratories that are working on topics relevant to human diseases. Preference is given to undergraduate students from underrepresented groups (broadly defined) that will perform summer research in the laboratory of an active ASIP member. Financial support provided by the ASIP can be used to provide stipend support for undergraduate students, direct support for laboratory research (supply funds), or to supplement housing costs for the hosted student.

Powell’s research in the laboratory of Lorenzo Sempere centered on creating genetic mice models with pancreatic cancer that allow her and the Sempere Lab to investigate the role of microRNA-21 pm as a tumor suppressive gene.

“To develop mice models, I perform a lot of genotyping on various strains, so we can develop new strains containing specific genes of interest,” explained Powell. “I also assist with the imaging of our animals using the microCT and the general maintenance of the lab’s animal colonies.”

Sempere, assistant professor of radiology in MSU’s College of Human Medicine and principal investigator of the project, suggested Powell apply for the ASIP grant.

“Investigating scholarships and research awards gave me a little bit of insight into what it is like for scientists to apply for grants and plan experiments around funding,” Powell said. “This ASIP Summer Research Opportunity Program in Pathology provided $4,000 in funding.”

Although the ASIP grant was originally intended to apply to summer research, the coronavirus pandemic prevented student research on campus at that time. Powell returned to the Sempere lab when additional staff were allowed back on campus later in the season.

Because of similar circumstances throughout the United States, ASIP extended its support for the Summer Research Program in Pathology into the fall semester—and Powell is fully engaged.

“I am incredibly honored to have received this grant,” Powell said. “Professionally, this award allows me to continue the research I love and to gain valuable experience for a future career in science. Personally, receiving this grant validates my contribution to the research I have been performing and inspires me to continue pursuing my research goals.”

Powell is currently working on the abstract for a research presentation on her work later this year.

The mission of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) is to promote the discovery, advancement, and dissemination of basic and translational knowledge in experimental pathology and related disciplines. This is achieved by fostering investigation into the pathogenesis, classification, diagnosis, and manifestations of disease through meetings, publications, and educational activities

Image of Katie Powell in lab
MSU microbiology senior Katie Powell prepares tubes for ear punching mice, which provides DNA for use in genotyping. Also called pinna biopsy, the ear punching technique involves using a two-millimeter punch device to quickly collect suitable tissue for genotyping without general anesthesia or pain. Courtesy photo