WSSU Awarded Funding for NSF HBCU-UP Research Initiation Award: Environmental Factors Modulation of Structure-Function of Biological Systems
Winston- Salem State University has been awarded a $299,835 grant from NSF led by Dr. Sarah Adjei-Fremah, for Environmental Factors Modulation of Structure-Function of Biological Systems. The project will examine the effects of Perfluoroalkyl-substances (PFAS), synthetic compounds with wide industrial applications and bioaccumulate in nature reservoirs (water and soil), plants, animals, and human tissue on mitochondria structure-function. The multiscale effects of PFAS on mitochondrion dynamics will be studied in detail and would provide insights to the potential health risk associated with PFAS exposure. The project will engage 15 WSSU undergraduate students across multiple disciplines for three years. The students will get hands-on training for the application and detection of mitochondria metabolic events in an in vitro system following exposure to PFAS environment contaminants using molecular biology approach. They will learn several tools and techniques including cell culture, microscopy, genomic and proteomic.
Beyond the engagement of undergraduate students in STEM research, the proposed study will impact and increase research capacity at WSSU. As an HBCU Institution, WSSU is committed to producing more graduates with degrees in STEM. This project will enhance the research training of undergraduates, especially from groups underrepresented in STEM areas, this will contribute towards the need to foster a diverse STEM workforce. Dr. Adjei-Fremah will actively participate in K12 youth outreach, and together with students involved in the proposed study will be strongly engaged in STEM outreach activities with underserved K12 students and youth to encourage and excite their interest to explore STEM profession.