SDS 328M Students Show Off Data Analysis Skills at CNS Undergraduate Research Forum

b2ap3_thumbnail_Spotlight_Pic.pngCeclia Vichier-Guerre and her poster, “Paroxetine and Sertraline Exposure on Neural Crest Stem Cell Formation.”

22 April 2015—On Friday, April 17, the halls of the Welch Building were filled with College of Natural Sciences undergraduate students enthusiastically showing off their research posters during the 2015 Undergraduate Research Forum. During this event over 250 student researchers presented their findings from projects they have worked on with faculty members or student groups, such as the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). Topics this year included experiments on cancer cell growth, comparing nutrition in the diets of students from different ethnic backgrounds, and analyzing factors leading to health risks in minority populations.

An integral part to any scientific research is data analysis, and nearly all of the poster presentations at the event included descriptive and/or inferential statistical methods. Many of the student researchers who presented at the forum are current or past students in SDS 328M Biostatistics, where they learned the analysis methods commonly used in scientific research and how to run them in the statistical software program, R.

Cecilia Vichier-Guerre (senior Biology BSA/Premed, Predent, Prevet), is currently enrolled in SDS 328M and conducted a study for her senior thesis that examined the potential effects of exposure to different concentrations of two antidepressants, sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), on neural crest stem cell (NCSC) formation in vitro.

"Biostatistics class really came in handy when analyzing the data!" - Biology Senior Cecilia Vichier-Guerre


According to Ms. Vichier-Guerre, “Biostatistics class really came in handy when analyzing the data! I used ANOVA to see if cell proliferation, migration, and gene expression were significantly different between the treatment and controls. When the p-value was less than 0.05, I ran t-tests to examine which treatments significantly differed from the controls. It was really neat applying the statistics that I learned in class to what I was doing in the lab!”

Another current SDS 328M student, Taher Jamali (senior Biology Honors/Premed, Predent, Prevet), conducted a study on obesity and obesity-related diseases in a South Asian Muslim Immigrant community in Houston. He ran chi-squared tests of independence and correlation analyses to help determine if factors like physical activity and sugar-sweetened beverage intake lead to obesity in this population.

“I did all of my analysis using R,” Mr. Jamali said. “I also used R to create most of my graphs and figures. The biostatistics class and lab helped me a lot this semester with my project. I had not even heard of R before this semester.”

Congratulations to all of the 2015 award winners (as judged by university faculty, alumni, and industry experts):

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