Biology Students Attend American Society for Cell Biology Conference

January 16, 2024

Two Western students, Bree Nelson and Anna Byquist, along with two Biology faculty, Lina Dahlberg and Nick Galati, attended the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) conference in Boston in early December 2023. The conference included poster presentation sessions, symposiums, workshops on a wide range of topics related to cell biology and gave students an opportunity to speak with other scientists who study the same or similar pathways. 

Both Nelson and Byquist presented posters at the undergraduate poster session and the general poster session. Anna Byquist, a BioChem major, is a student lab researcher in the Dahlberg Lab. The Dahlberg Lab focuses on a protein degradation pathway called the Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated-Degradation (ERAD) pathway. They use C. elegans as the model organism due to their anatomic simplicity and many molecular processes in common with humans. Anna’s conference poster presented data from transcriptomic analysis of an RNAseq library which was made and analyzed during BIOL 477 along with microscopy data taken on the widefield scope. Bree Nelson, another Dahlberg Lab student researcher, presented a poster titled “ERADicating Misfolded Proteins in C. elegans”. Bree explains, “We used the model organism, C. elegans, to explore the effects of genetic mutations in what we believe to be important ERAD genes. New developments in ERAD research may help to understand neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.” 

Student stands in front of a presentation board with a scientific data poster on the board.

Bree Nelson gets ready to present. 

Three people smile at the camera. They are wearing conference badges around their necks.

From left: Professor Lina Dahlberg, Bree Nelson, Anna Byquist 


Anna Byquist presents at the conference. 

Byquist and Nelson have both been past participants in the Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). The SURP program offers multiple sessions on how to create and present an effective poster. Byquist, a SURP participant for the past two summers, stated that the skills acquired during SURP sessions taught them how to present to experts and non-experts. Nelson added, “I took a lot of the advice from the SURP mentors into account when designing my poster for the ASCB conference.” 

For students interested in getting more involved with research or attending and presenting at conferences, Byquist and Nelson recommend finding a faculty mentor who understands their goals. Nelson mentioned, “Professors have a lot of resources for opportunities that will send you in the right direction.” Byquist added, “My mentor [Professor Lina Dahlberg] has introduced me to so many opportunities that I never would have known existed. She is constantly pushing me to apply for grants, scholarships, and jobs that she knows will help me achieve my academic goals while supporting me in my coursework and my research.”