Record setting day for USF Health Research Day


The bustle started early, as researchers made their way to the USF Marshall Center Feb. 25 to set up their posters for this year’s USF Health Research Day.

A record 260 presenters carried their research posters to the USF Marshall Center to participate in the 21st Annual USF Health Research Day, an event that showcases the work of graduate and postgraduate students and residents, and even faculty and staff, from throughout USF Health, as well as across campus.

After the initial set up, the day began with the Second Annual Joseph Krzanowski, PhD, USF Health Invited Oral Presentations Session, a showcase of outstanding work of a select few. This year’s session includes, for the first time, a researcher from outside USF Health. The nine invited to present their work orally this year are:

From the College of Medicine: Tina Fiorelli (PhD student), Erinn Kellner (medical student), Kenrick Semple (graduate student), Jamiee Afeld (medical student), Angela LaFace (medical student).

From the College of Nursing: Jacqueline Munro (graduate student).

From the College of Public Health: Christopher Campbell (graduate student), Alexia Makris (graduate student).

From the College of Engineering: Alexandra Oliveros (graduate student).

Immediately following the oral presentations, the full poster presentation session began.

Spread across the entire second-floor ballroom were rows and rows of bulletin boards holding the work of young researchers from throughout USF Health. Judges made their rounds to each presentation, asking the lead researchers to further explain their methods, results and conclusions before deciding on the award-worthy entrants.

Much of the research presented today comes with support from grants to faculty, but also grants to the student researchers, as well. The American Heart Association, for example funded three medical students presenting at this year’s USF Health Research Day. They are Steven DudickNiraj Jani, and Patrick Chang (all pictured below).

But most all of the work includes a mentor. Here, Dr. Sharona Ross mentored three students with their work, pictured here, from left, are Melissa Silva, Abby Koch, Dr. Sharona Ross, and Francesca Dimou. These women, along with medical student  Angela LaFace (on right), will be presenting their findings at the national Second Annual Women in Surgery Symposium in March.

Also there was Shamol Williams, a second-year medical student who spent last summer in Allentown, PA, conducting research at the Lehigh Valley Health Network. The USF College of Medicine and Lehigh Valley are partnering to offer a new MD program called SELECT — a physician leadership program — and Shamol (pictured below) worked with faculty from this northern campus for his project.

New this year is the Dr. Christopher P. Phelps Memorial Travel Award, given to Josh Morganti. A long-time USF faculty member and chairman of the Department of Anatomy, Dr. Phelps died in 2008. Judges for this inaugural award were Drs. Marzenna Wiranowska, Sam Saporta, and Don Cameron (pictured below).

The day-long event, now in its 21th year, is a prime opportunity for collaboration and acts as a “practice run” for many of the presenters, whose work may garner spots at national research meetings.

Culminating the day was the Roy H. Behnke Distinguished Lectureship, featuring Carol Bult, PhD, professor of The Jackson Laboratory. Her talk was titled “Mouse Models of Human Disease: Where We Are, Where We Are Going.”

As the day wound down, winners were announced at the Awards Ceremony, which were presented by Dr. Phil Marty, associate vice president for research. Winning this year were:

USF Health Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Oral Presentation Co-Winners: Kenrick Semple (Strong CD28 Costimulation Suppresses Induction of Regulatory T Cells from Naïve Precursors Through Lck Signaling) and Christopher Campbell (Characterization of a Putative Pseudophosphatase In The Human Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum)

Watson Clinic 4th Year Medical Student Award: Laura Thornsberry (Black Dot Basal Cell Carcinoma: A New Clinical Sign for Early Detection)

Dr. Christopher P. Phelps Memorial Graduate Student Award: Josh Morganti (Chronic LPS Induced Disruption of Fkn-Cx3cr1 Signaling is Associated with Hippocampal Dependent Cognitive Dysfunction)

Medical students: Ashley Davis and Kimberly Law (Shave Biopsy Is a Safe and Accurate Method for the Initial Evaluation of Melanoma), Abby Koch (Differential Gene Expression in Colorectal Cancer Patients with Metabolic Syndrome), Shamol Williams (Quality Outcome Measures of Robotic Surgery in Patients with Endometrial Cancer), Patrick Chang (Comparative Outcomes of Endovascular, Open and Hybrid Interventions for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease), Roshni Ranjit (Pattern of Neonatasl Conjunctivitis in Neonates Receiving Health Care in Blantyre, Malawi), Jonathan Lopez (Nitric Oxide’s Role in Ischemic Wounds), Rajiv Parikh (Characteristics of at Risk Populations in Skin Cancer Screening: The Moffitt Mole Patrol Experience).

Graduate students: Chris Laird (The Characterization of Apicomplexan Regulatory Protein Kinases), Shraddha Desai (PKC-ι Promotes Glioblastoma Cell Survival by Inhibiting BAD Through a PI (3)-kinase), Kamisha Woolery (The 185delAG BRCA1 Mutant Protein, BRAT, Increases Interleukin-1β Expression in Ovarian Epithelial Cells), Natalie Donn (The Learning Curve of Laparo-Endoscopic Single Site (LESS) Fundoplication: Definable, Short, and SafeRicci Haines (S328 Dephosphorylation of Argininosuccinate Synthase Increases Endothelial Nitric Oxide Production), Jackie Johnson (Differential Regulation of MMP Promoters By E2F Transcription Factors).

College of Nursing: Stacey Purcell (The Relationship between Nurses’ Stress and Nurse Staffing in a Hospital Setting)

College of Public Health: Sara Kennedy (Parent Satisfaction with Provider Communication by Child’s Health Insurance Status), Brian Vesely (Creation and Characterization of Leishmania Donovani axenic amastigote Cell Line), Haofei Yu (Modeling of Residential Exposures to Nitrogen Oxides among Different Population Groups in Hillsborough County), Stephanie Kolar (HPV-Related Stigma, Negative Emotions and Men’s Intention to Tell Sex Partners to Receive a Pap Test), Ryan Michael (Atmospheric Mercury Deposition and Source Attribution for Tampa).

Undergraduate: Karthik Arulselvam (DnaJ Molecular Chaperones Modulate Tau Levels), Stephanie Kay Foley (Effects of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease on the Morphology of Cortical Astrocytes), Janine Kiray (Specificity of Molecular Chaperones for Protein Stability), Sayeef Mirza (Quantifying Protein Expression Associated with Drug Resistance in Single Myeloma Cells).

Other photos of the day:

News and comments from earlier in the day:

Not all the presentations Friday belonged to students. Laura Barnes, PhD, an assistant professor with the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, stood by her poster Friday: a project on decision support for terminally ill patients, helping them decide when to go to hospice and when to continue treatment.

“We get our names out there,” Dr. Barnes said. “We can establish collaborations that we maybe wouldn’t get otherwise.”


Phil Marty, PhD, associate vice president for research, noted that this year’s event is the largest USF Health Research Day ever, with more than 260 poster presentations.

“I think what that says is that the attention that’s being given to research is being enhanced by chairs, administrators and faculty,” Dr. Marty said.

He hopes Friday’s presenters will walk away having learned a few lessons.

“One of the most important things would be that there are many, many opportunities to collaborate,” he said. “Quality research really comes from multi-disciplinary efforts.”


Deborah Condosta, a former faculty member in the College of Nursing, was a student as well. She graduated  in December with a DNP degree.

On Friday, she was back, participating for the first time in USF Health Research Day.

Condosta’s project: a chart review at a Brandon clinic, comparing how well patients with diabetes did at meeting goals set by the American Diabetes Association, depending on whether they received care from a doctor or a nurse practitioner.

“This is the first poster presentation I’ve done, and I’m having fun,” Condosta said. She’ll be doing another one at a conference in June. “I wanted a little practice beforehand.”


Tony Panzera, a first-year PhD student in Community and Family Health in the College of Public Health, wasn’t sure what to expect from Research Day. He found reassurance.

“It’s fantastic,” Panzera said. “It’s comforting…I’m really happy that Public Health has such a presence on campus.”

Panzera chose to focus his research on breastfeeding, trying to discover whether mothers who receive “family-centered care” are more likely to breastfeed their babies.

“I believe in the idea of prevention,” he said. “It’s such a natural thing, and yet there are so many competing forces.”

Panzera evaluated data from a national data  set of 91,000 patients to look at  his question. What he found was an unexpected wrinkle: the data was coded in such a way that most patients were excluded from his query. His next step will be to try to get the code rewritten, so that data can be recovered.


“Yes, but it speaks to why I’m doing this — to increase research and knowledge,” Panzera said. “And if I get frustrated, I remember that if I’m not doing this, maybe nobody else is.”


Medical students Jonathan Lopez and Rajiv Parikh compared notes Friday morning on each other’s posters.

“It’s a great way to show the rest of the USF community the great strides we’re making in research and clinical care,” said Parikh, a third-year student.

Lopez, a second-year student, was hoping to find others doing similar work.

“This is a great opportunity to see what other people are doing, learn about their work, and see what’s similar enough to mine that we can collaborate,” he said.

As it happened, their studies were completely dissimilar. Lopez’ study looked at non-healing wounds, and how oxidants the body produces to kill bacteria might actually be keeping such wounds from healing. Parikh’s research was part of the Moffitt Mole Patrol, looking at more than 5,000 people who received skin cancer screenings to find factors that might put them at higher risk for skin cancer.

But even the contrast in their work has value, Parikh said.

“Our projects show the scope of what’s happening here,” Parikh said. “He’s taking the basic science from the bench and mine is completely the other end of the spectrum taking research to patient care.”


Video directed by Elizabeth Peacock, USF Health Communications

Video by Klaus Herdocia, Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

Video editing by Klaus Herdocia, Elizabeth Peacock, USF Health Communications

Stories by Sarah A. Worth, Lisa Greene, USF Health Communications

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications