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UB Undergraduate Receives American Society for Microbiology Fellowship

Release Date: December 7, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo senior Courtney Szyjka has been awarded the American Society for Microbiology's 2012 Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

The award is made to highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers in microbiology. Szyjka is one of 56 fellows selected from a field of 122 applications.

Fellows receive a $4,000 stipend and an opportunity to conduct full-time summer research with an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) mentor. In addition to the stipend, fellowship recipients receive a two-year American Society of Microbiology student membership and funding for travel expenses to the society's Presentation Institute and to present their research results at the society's 113th General Meeting in Denver, Colo. in May 2013.

Szyjka, who studies biological sciences at UB, is conducting research with Gerald Koudelka, professor and chair of UB's Department of Biological Sciences. The focus of the research project, "Characterization of the DNA Binding and Gene Regulatory Activities of Bacteriophage VT2 phi_272 Repressor," is to understand the regulatory mechanisms that underlie production of Shiga toxin by the E. coli O104:H4 strain that caused a serious outbreak of foodborne illness in summer 2011.

Commenting on the significance of this award to Szyjka's research and career plans, Koudelka said, "The fellowship award to Courtney Szyjka is well-deserved. Courtney is a dedicated, enthusiastic and extremely talented researcher and student. The funds provided by this fellowship will allow Courtney to not have to work during the semester to cover the costs of school, as has been true in the past. With that, she can focus her attention on this highly significant research project. The opportunity for her to present at the ASM General Meeting will allow her to showcase her results and hone her communications skills at an international meeting."

The American Society for Microbiology, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has more than 40,000 members worldwide. For more information on the fellowship, visit http://www.asm.org/students.

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