Student completes NSF International Research Experience in Austria

READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks biochemistry and molecular biology major Margaret “Maggie” Neiman completed a National Science Foundation (NSF) International Research Experience for Undergraduates (iREU) at the University of Graz, Austria, in August 2015. Offered through Syracuse University, this competitive summer research program is for students who have a serious interest in chemistry and prior research experience.

Neiman’s summer research experience focused on X-ray crystallography, a tool used for identifying the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal. She studied how the single crystal X-ray diffraction machine works, learned how to operate computer programs to build chemical structures, and analyzed various chemical samples.

“My NSF-iREU experience opened my eyes to not only other techniques and aspects of chemistry, but also to the many cultures found throughout Europe. This experience gave me more knowledge of chemistry and its applications in order to succeed within my career,” said Neiman, who is currently a senior.

Her current research priority is her Schreyer honors thesis, which examines cancer biology, specifically non-melanoma skin cancers, which are on the rise among young adult populations. Her work focuses on polyamine pathways and antizyme inhibitors, and she aims to identify a gene that impedes tumor growth. Her work is supervised by Shannon Nowotarski, assistant professor of biochemistry at Penn State Berks. Neiman hopes to present her findings at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in April 2016.

Neiman is a Schreyer Scholar, a member of the Penn State Berks Honors Program, and a recipient of the Penn State Berks 2014 Organic Chemistry Award, as well as multiple scholarships. She has worked as a peer mentor in chemistry and biology since 2013 and will be student teaching in an upper-level biology course in the spring 2016 semester.

When asked about her plans after graduation, she stated that she hopes to return to her native New Hampshire and work as a chemist in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, along with her father. She also plans to pursue her doctorate in biochemistry.

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Last Updated November 12, 2015