Success in Research

CAFNR Student Wins Outstanding Poster Presentation at National Conference 

Paxton Kostos, a junior majoring in biochemistry in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, has always been curious. It was this curiosity that led her to win Outstanding Poster Presentation in the Cell Biology category at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

Kostos’ interest in science was sparked in elementary school.

“I have always been like really curious, just like that annoying kid that wants to know more about what we are learning,” Kostos said. “I felt that science was the subject that really answered those questions for me, but also gave me the tools to answer them myself and to build off those questions.”

Kostos with her poster titled, “Delineating Constitutive Callose Defects in Dynamin Network Mutants.”Kostos with her poster titled, “Delineating Constitutive Callose Defects in Dynamin Network Mutants.” Photo courtesy of Kostos.

ABRCMS gives students the opportunity to present their research through poster presentations, hear about research from scientists across the country and connect with numerous graduate programs. This year’s conference was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from Nov. 14-17. Around 4,600 were in attendance, with about 2,200 entered in poster presentations. Around 300 posters were awarded the Outstanding Poster Award.

Kostos’ poster was titled, “Delineating Constitutive Callose Defects in Dynamin Network Mutants.”

The results of her study give insight to plant immunity.

“Understanding how plant immune systems work is really important for the agriculture industry, and these results could potentially lead to various methods that could reduce crop loss,” Kostos said.

Kostos’ involvement in MU’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) Expose to Research for Science Students (EXPRESS) Program led her to participating in ABRCMS. IMSD-Express is a program that aims to engage minority students in research and increase diversity in STEM. Through this program, Kostos applied to become a fellow, proposing her project idea. After working around 12 hours a week on her project, Kostos presented her findings at ABRCMS.

Kostos working in the lab. Photo courtesy of Kostos. Kostos completing research on plant immunity in Dr. Heese’s lab. Photo courtesy of Kostos.

After graduation, Kostos plans to attend medical school. She said she hasn’t ruled out research yet, but knows she will end up doing something with medicine.

When deciding on her major, Kostos couldn’t decide between biology and chemistry, so biochemistry seemed like a good fit. She was surprised to learn that biochemistry is a degree within CAFNR.

“I’ve really grown to love CAFNR; it really treats the students as students and individuals as opposed to numbers,” Kostos said. “The advising is excellent. Every time I’ve gone I’ve gotten more than the help I’ve needed. It’s just a great college.”

Students looking to get involved in undergrad research opportunities can learn more here.