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Riverton’s Sara Cisneros Receives Wyoming INBRE Transition Fellowship

December 16, 2015
Woman with arms inside warming unit
Sara Cisneros is one of nine Wyoming community college students who received Wyoming INBRE Transition Fellowships to continue their studies at the University of Wyoming. (Sara Cisneros Photo)

An opportunity at the University of Wyoming will allow Sara Cisneros to continue her passion to conduct research as she follows a path to a career in the field of biomedical sciences.

“I feel very honored and privileged to participate in the INBRE Transition Fellowship program,” says Cisneros, from Riverton. “Acceptance into this program was a major turning point for me in my education, and it has led me to a more promising and exciting career path than I had ever imagined.”

Cisneros earned her associate of science degree in biological sciences/pre-health from Central Wyoming College. She is one of nine students from Wyoming’s community colleges who received Wyoming INBRE Transition Fellowships to study and conduct research at UW.

Through a competitive selection process, the Wyoming IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program awards transition fellowships to Wyoming community college students who transfer to UW to pursue bachelor’s degrees in biomedical-related disciplines.

For two years, students receive $2,500 each semester to study and receive training in UW research laboratories. There also is the possibility of support through the Wyoming INBRE Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program that provides $3,500 for the summer, says Scott Seville, Wyoming INBRE principal investigator and program director.

Students must maintain full-time enrollment and at least a 3.0 GPA while being supported. They must commit to working about 10 hours per week in a laboratory on a mentored independent research project. They also are required to attend INBRE seminars and events as their course schedules allow, and present results of their research at Wyoming Undergraduate Research Day.

“To facilitate the transition from their colleges to the university, junior and senior transition fellows meet regularly with the INBRE personnel to discuss and address transition challenges, share experiences and engage in a supportive community of student scholars,” Seville says.

Cisneros, a molecular biology major, guided by her faculty mentor Baskaran Thyagarajan, an assistant professor in the UW School of Pharmacy, is investigating the viability of capsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers spicy -- as a pharmacotherapy for fatty liver disease.

“Being a transition fellow has been an amazing experience,” Cisneros says. “On top of the time I get to work and learn in the lab, the connections I’ve made with other investigators and the exposure to other emerging research in and out of my field have been invaluable to me.”

Wyoming, with UW as the lead institution, is one of 23 states and Puerto Rico funded by the National Institutes of Health INBRE program. INBRE funding is intended to enhance biomedical research capacity; expand and strengthen the research capabilities of biomedical faculty; and provide access to biomedical resources for promising undergraduate students throughout the eligible states.

Other transition fellows, listed by hometowns and community colleges, are:

Cheyenne -- Samantha Haller and Kelsea Zukauckas, Laramie County Community College; and Hannah Jernigan, Sheridan College.

Laramie -- Jessica Marsh, Laramie County Community College.

Rawlins -- Rebecca Iacovetto, Central Wyoming College.

Reliance -- Denise De Loera, Western Wyoming Community College.

Riverton -- Philip Gard, Central Wyoming College.

Rock Springs -- Andrea Sanchez Walk, Western Wyoming Community College.

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