Mungai wins research award

Margaret Mungai has received a 2019 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Awards (EURA) given by the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU). Each year the ICRU awards five EURAs, which includes a $1,000 travel scholarship to a professional development program or event, an ICRU Fellowship for the 2019-2020 academic year, and recognition at a dinner in April hosted by the UI’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

Mungai was nominated by E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, and Antentor O. Hinton, Jr, PhD, both of whom serve as her mentors in the Abel Lab. Among her growing accomplishments, Mungai is a member of the University of Iowa’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, an extension of the Iowa Illinois Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education (IINSPIRE). The LSAMP IINSPIRE program provides its student interns a stipend and connects them with a cross-section of mentors—peers, graduate students, and professors. It also requires a commitment of 15 to 20 hours a week working in a research lab on top of her other academic responsibilities. Mungai also received an internship award from the UI’s Summer Health Professions Education Program last year.

In addition to her regular work in the Abel Lab, Mungai has sought coaching in improving her public speaking skills and applied those lessons when she presented her research at a recent national undergraduate conference, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last November in Indianapolis. Mungai presented a poster titled “OPA-1 Deficiency in Skeletal Muscle Increases Mitochondria-ER Contact Formation.”

In his letter on Mungai’s behalf, Hinton considered himself “fortunate” to be her instructor, calling her “a natural leader” and “an independent thinker” who asks tough questions while also still working as a team player who can “recognize how to motivate others” and how to “find their hidden potential.” Hinton also praised her curiosity and humility and identified her capacity for future achievement. “I have become only more impressed by the wide range of her abilities,” Hinton wrote. “I think that with the proper proper training, she will be a well-accomplished physician-scientist that will also be able to conduct research.”

Congratulations to Ms. Mungai on this remarkable achievement!

2 Responses

  1. […] A primary focus of the Abel Lab is on the effects mitochondrial fusion and fission dysfunction have on diabetes. Smaller research projects that support this bigger question get assigned to graduate and undergraduate students. Margaret Mungai, an undergraduate student in the Abel Lab, has been looking at mitochondria’s response to lack of the protein OPA1 that loss’s effect on mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum cites (MERC), which has been correlated with Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance. So far, she has found that with the loss of OPA1, there is an increase in MERCs in order to relieve mitochondria stress caused by OPA1 deficiency. Earlier this year, Mungai received special recognition for this project work with an Excellence in Undergraduate Research award from ICRU. […]

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