April 2019 – Drew University students earned second and third place honors at an undergraduate research symposium of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey.
The research of biochemistry majors Malek Elsayyid C’19 and Zarina Akbary C’19 was recognized at an event that featured speakers from the state’s pharmaceutical, technology and defense companies.
In a field of 49 students, Elsayyid finished second and Akbary, third. Last year, Drew students earned first and second place. So, students from The Forest have claimed four of the top six awards in the past two years.
Elsayyid examined the relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer. She credited her faculty advisor, Biology Department Chair Stephen Dunaway, Assistant Professor Brianne Barker and the university with providing the opportunity for undergraduate scientific research that’s not available at many schools.
Elsayyid has been active in The Forest, as a Mary Hepburn Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement, the president of the Muslim Students Association and a member of the chemistry and biology honor societies. She also works part-time as a pharmacy technician. This summer, she’ll begin to pursue a PhD in biology at the University of Delaware.
Akbary investigated the activity of biocatalytic enzymes from 45-million-year-old yeast strains under the supervision of Neal Connors, assistant director of Drew’s Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti. Outside of the lab, she’s a delegate to the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and an Amgen Scholar.
Akbary has also been an active participant in the Drew Student Voter Project and a fellow at America Needs You, an organization that furthers the professional development of first-generation college students. After Drew, she’ll pursue a PhD in biology at New York University with the goal of working in science policy.