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Kinesiology student wins national award

  • Award winner
    Award winner  Sarah Todd ’10 at the poster session of the Experimental Biology meeting of the American Physiological Society. (Courtesy photo)  
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Just weeks before graduation, Sarah Todd ’10 found one more reason to celebrate. Todd received the David S. Bruce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research from the American Physiological Society. She is the first William and Mary student to have obtained such an honor.

“This award is the highlight of my undergraduate research experience,” Todd remarked. “It is a culmination of all the work invested into this project over the past year. It motivates me to want to continue to learn and grow as a young scientist.”

The David S. Bruce Awards recognize undergraduate students who are engaged in research in experimental biology. To be considered for this award, applicants must submit an abstract of their experiment and award application materials. Applicants  present their posters at the national Experimental Biology meeting of the APS, which was held this year in Anaheim, California. Finalists are interviewed by the Bruce Award Subcommittee, composed of members of the American Physiological Society. Awardees receive $500, an award certificate and an invitation to share their posters during a special session of the conference.

Todd found out about this award through other members of her lab group who had previously applied or were finalists. She was most encouraged to apply by Robin Looft-Wilson, associate professor of kinesiology & health sciences, with whom Todd performed her laboratory research.

“The scientific community is very supportive and encouraging of undergraduate research and I feel extremely honored and grateful to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” Todd said. “It was exciting to have the opportunity to share and discuss my research with top scientists at the meeting because they were interested in and impressed by what I have accomplished.”

Todd’s research focuses on the relationship between shear stress, a frictional force induced by blood flow on blood vessel walls, and the activation of eNOS, an enzyme that regulates vessel dilation. Looft-Wilson noted that Todd took a leading role during all phases of the project, from setting up the experiment to applying treatments to analyzing data. Todd adds that this novel research will lead to “a better understanding of artery function in response to increased flow during exercise and how the vessels remodel to protect against cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.”

Todd will receive her B.S. in kinesiology  & health sciences in May, and will be taking a year off to gain more research experience as a lab technician before attending graduate or medical school.

Todd’s project was supported by an undergraduate research fellowship from the American Physiological Society and a grant from the National Institutes of Health to Looft-Wilson.