University of South Florida

25th USF Health Research Day: A celebration of research and collaboration

The hubbub started early Feb. 20 as young scientists filled the Marshall Center Ballroom to post their research posters. It was Tampa’s coldest morning so far, and veteran Research Day organizers agreed that moving the event to the Marshall Center was wise, recalling the chilly, windy, concrete-laden breezeways that held Research Day for more than two decades before.

_HCM0032 2_RSS

Inside the warm Ballroom, rows and rows of bulletin boards held the work of students, residents, fellows and post-doctoral researchers from across USF Health. Along an entire wall were the posters of middle school students from the Villages and Berkley Prep. In total, more than 360 rising research stars presented their work at this year’s USF Health Research Day.



Marking the 25th time USF Health’s emerging scientists have come together to present their projects, and judges scrutinizing the data and deciding the winners, the day offered an exceptional celebratory feel, said Phillip Marty, PhD, vice president for USF Health Research.

“This event has always been successful for spotlighting our accomplished and aspiring researchers, and today’s Research Day feels especially exciting,” Dr. Marty said. “We’ve welcomed hundreds of researchers over the years and seen many of their foundational projects grow into more formidable work. I’m quite proud of the level of research that keeps coming to this event and growing from it.”

Banners, signage, materials and goodie bags were emblazoned with the specially designed art element for the 25th anniversary. Inside the Ballroom and projected on a large screen mounted above the crowd were images from Research Days of the past, offering everyone a chance to reminisce.

_HCM0244 2_RSS

And there were no paper programs listing researchers and posters this year. Instead, organizers used the 25th anniversary event to offer an interactive app called Eventmobi that not only listed the 360 posters and researchers but also allowed attendees to map out their own customized itinerary for the day, allowed presenters to update their own bios with additional information, photos and descriptions of their work, helped push out notifications such as “be at your poster; time for judging” for presenters, and offered a social media component for sharing news and excitement of the day.

The day-long event brings together researchers from across all USF Health colleges, programs and disciplines, as well as guest researchers from USF programs studying the science of health. Beginning the day are the oral presenters, the few whose work earned them an invitation to present their work orally. This year’s 11 selected students presented their work at the 6th Annual Joseph Krzanowski, PhD, USF Health Invited Oral Presentations Session, They were: Jillian Whelan; Glenna S. Brewster, RN, MS; April Lussier; Joseph Smith; Prerna Malaney, M.S; Byron Moran, MD; Lauren A. Terpak, MS; Nicole Falk-Smith; Nolan Kline; Steven B. Housley, MS; and Zhiwei Zhou.

Following the oral presentations, the full poster presentation session began in the Ballroom. Abstracts tacked onto bulletin boards filled the Marshall Center Ballroom, evidence of the breadth of groundbreaking and collaborative work taking place. For two hours, classmates, colleagues, mentors, faculty and the curious make their way from abstract to abstract. Judges are also there, evaluating each presentation and conferring with lead researchers to further explain their methods, results and conclusions. Many of the budding researchers use the event as an opportunity for collaboration and as a “practice run” for future national research meetings.

_HCM0429 5_RSS

_HCM0246 2 copy_RSS

_HCM0261 2_RSS

College of Nursing doctoral candidate Glenna Brewster, RN, MS, presented her work on depression in older adults.


_HCM0372 4_RSS

_HCM0300 2_RSS

Dr. Summer Decker and Ashok Shiani, a fourth-year medical student.

The day included students from the Villages and Berkeley Preparatory School, who showcased their own award-winning posters.

_HCM0354 4_RSS


_HCM0134 2_RSS

Berkeley Prep students with science teacher Dr. Nicole Ackerson (standing far left), who graduated from the USF MCOM Biomedical Sciences program. Her mentor while at USF, Dr. Patricia Kruk, (standing far right) MCOM Vice Chair, Pathology & Cell Biology, reconnected with Dr. Ackerson and her class of young scientists.

After a lunch break, everyone headed to the Oval Theatre for the USF Health Research Day features the Roy H. Behnke Distinguished Lectureship. In introductory remarks, Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, set the stage for today’s research initiatives, urging today’s researchers to look at the true value of their work.


“Our research is great, but more is not better,” Dr. Lockwood said. “Our research has to be different materially than in the past. We have to do value-based research. We don’t only produce a new device or drug or diagnostic test that marginally improves outcomes and actually raises costs. But, rather, improves outcomes and lowers costs. And value needs to be used in everything we do in the future.”

This year’s guest lecturer was David Swerdlow, MD, associate director and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His talk was titled: “What are the critical epidemiologic questions that need to be answered at the start of an epidemic:  What we learned from Influenza A (H1N1) and MERS and how that applies to the Ebola outbreak.”


At the conclusion of the talk, the much-anticipated awards are presented. This year’s winners are:

Best MCOM Graduate Student Poster Presentations:

Allergy and Immunology: Nhan N. Tu

Cancer Biology: Mai Mohamed

Cardiovascular and Clinical Science Research: Wei Deng

Masters Student Interdisciplinary Research: Alexandra Jenkins

Molecular and Cell Biology: Jaymin J. Kathiriya

Public Health Research: Jennifer Greene


Best MCOM Medical Student Presentations:

Med I Student Poster Presentation: Interdisciplinary Research: Joseph Leung

Med II Student Poster Presentation, Case Studies and Chart Reviews: Cady Welch

Med II Student Poster Presentation, Clinical Science Research: Yumeng Zhang

Med II Student Poster Presentation, Education and Public Health Research: Robert Ackerman

Med III Student Poster Presentation: Interdisciplinary Research: Thomas Sutton


Best Undergraduate Student Poster Presentations:

Interdisciplinary Research: Alexander Czachor

Molecular and Cellular Biology: Esha Patel

Neuroscience I: Nina Margarita Slouha

Neuroscience II: Nicholas Johnson

Neuroscience II: Nima Hosseinian


Best College of Pharmacy Poster Presentation:

Graduate Student: Cameron Durlacher

Postdoctoral: Kalyan Chapalamadugu, PhD


Best College of Public Health Poster Presentations:

Graduate Student: Omonigho Michael Bubu

Graduate Student: Shana Green

Graduate Student: Amruta Mhashilkar, MD

Graduate Student: Rema Ramakrishnan

Graduate Student: Jessica Ryan

Graduate Student: Phaedra Thomas

Graduate Student: Coralia Vazquez-Otero, JD

Post-doctoral Student: Christopher Rice, PhD


Top Awards

USF Health Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation: Prerna Malaney


Prerna Malaney.

MCOM Outstanding Postdoctoral Poster Presentation: Sandra Acosta, PhD

MCOM Outstanding Fellow Poster Presentation: Shannon Ho, MD

MCOM Best Resident Poster Presentation: Rachel Sinkey, MD

Watson Clinic Award to a Fourth-Year Medical Student: Travis Dailey

Dr. Christopher P. Phelps Memorial Fund Annual Morsani COM Graduate Student Travel Award: Lisa Kirouac


Story by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Communications

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

Video by Katy Hennig, USF Communications

U-Stream by Klaus Herdocia, Mihaela Madsen and Elizabeth Peacock, USF Health Communications


Network-wide options by YD - Freelance Wordpress Developer