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Anatomy doctoral student wins second place in poster competition

Rachelle Saint-Fort, a PhD candidate in the Anatomy Graduate Program at Penn State College of Medicine, recently presented her research at the 10th Aquatic Models for Human Diseases (AQMHD) Conference hosted at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Rachelle received second place and a monetary award for ‘Best Poster’ in the graduate student category for her poster entitled, “Groundwork for whole-animal phenotyping using X-ray histotomography”.

The conference divided into two categories, students and postdoctoral participants, and was the first in-person occurrence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible for the poster award, participants were required to have their poster abstracts accepted for presentation at the conference and participate in a one-minute lightning talk before the poster session.

According to Saint‑Fort, the judging panel was impressed with her enthusiasm in explaining her research using the laboratory’s new 3-dimensional form of histology termed X-ray histotomography to computationally define and characterize normal cell morphology for whole-organism, quantitative cell phenotyping. Saint‑Fort, who is advised by Keith Cheng, MD, PhD in the Division of Experimental Pathology, found the competition intimidating, yet rewarding.

Rachelle Saint-Fort explains her research to six other people, who are gathered around her poster.

Rachelle Saint Fort presents her research at a poster session during the first night of the Aquatic Models of Human Disease Conference on Oct. 7.

“Conveying my research in under a minute to an audience of scientists and trainees from various disciplines was harder than I expected,” Saint‑Fort said. “However, Dr. Matthew Harris’s playfulness in sounding a trumpet style bicycle horn when presenters went over-time made it fun and informal. I can’t wait to come back in two years to present my future work and gain on-the-spot feedback.”

Saint-Fort was the only student representing Penn State at the AQMHD conference, and said she is relieved to have completed her first live conference presentation experience as a graduate student. Her second place prize included an honorary certificate and a monetary award provided by The Company of Biologists and the Society for Developmental Biology who helped sponsor the 5-day conference.

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