(July 26, 2012)

Student explores enzyme for cell proliferation

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary student and research intern Paige Pritchett is spending her summer in the lab exploring an enzyme important for cell proliferation and involved in yeast budding. Professor of Physics Troy Messina is supervising Pritchett's work, which has possible implications in cancer cell research.

Paige Pritchett
Paige Pritchett

"One of the advantages of attending Centenary is the wonderful opportunity to obtain real research experience as an undergraduate student," said Pritchett. "We also have a greater chance of one-on-one interaction with professors."

Both Pritchett and Dr. Messina are building computer simulations to determine the lowest energy structures of different mutations of the enzyme. The simulations will help the pair discern the structure of the enzyme in different forms and in interaction with other molecules. Their research could be applied to multiple areas of research and the pharmaceutical industry.

For Pritchett, the mentorship fostered through the internship has made all the difference:

"The connection with our professors makes programs like these especially valuable. Students are free to explore and ask questions of their mentor—our professors are always up for teaching those who are willing to be curious and ask questions."

Faculty advisors choose Centenary students like Pritchett for on-campus research internships. At the end of the summer, research interns will present their projects to their returning classmates.

Pritchett will also share findings from her research collaboration during the Centenary Student Research Forum and the American Chemical Society meeting in the spring. With interests in both chemistry and biophysics, she hopes to build on this research experience in medical or graduate school after graduating from Centenary.