Record number of WNC science students participate in research work

Western Nevada College student Elijah Smith presents about his group’s research project — the baseline population of the Pinyon Jay habitat on Wild Oat Mountain at Topaz Lake — during a public poster presentation on June 27.

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

For many Western Nevada College students participating in the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program in June, it was their first experience with scientific research.

Eighteen undergraduates were divided into four research groups tasked with specific projects, and then they presented their research work in a poster format, requiring them to provide an introduction, research methods, an illustration of results and conclusions from their work. Each group was supervised by a mix of WNC biology and chemistry professors and instructors. The research students presented their work through a well-attended poster presentation June 27 to family members, faculty and staff in the Aspen Building.

“This is the largest number of students who have participated in the INBRE research,” said WNC Professor of Biology and Chemistry Dr. Elizabeth Tattersall. “I don’t know why there was more interest this year. Having the bird project helped, since the students who worked on that were not really interested in the other projects. 


The students did a very good job presenting their work.”

Most of the students were participating in scientific research for the first time.

“I’ve wanted to do research previously and not really had the opportunity to do so. I’m definitely looking to get more experience and keep doing it,” said Elijah Smith, who is pursuing an associate degree and will focus on a biology major at the University of Nevada, Reno. “To get paid to be out in the wild, looking for different types of wildlife, was a great experience. Really cool!”

While the student researchers didn’t discover a way to cure arthritis, they did make an unusual discovery – a hybrid bird that bird experts couldn’t name – and formed friendships with students with similar interests.

“I already had two of the professors for my classes, so I got to meet Dr. Tattersall,” said Zehna Abdelhady, part of the research group studying the diversity of bacteria at Walker Lake. “I only knew three of the eight people there so it was nice to meet a lot of new faces and get to really know them.”

Joining Smith in the group researching the baseline population of the Pinyon Jay habitat on Wild Oat Mountain at Topaz Lake were Nathan Boyd, Maile Pierson and Hailey Wagstaff. Their project was overseen by Biology Instructor Robin A. Eppard.

“It was an excellent way for students to learn,” Eppard said. “We used classroom knowledge in a real-world setting.”

Smith said it seemed that the Pinyon Jays discovered his research group before they located them.

“The Pinyon Jay is very noisy,” he said. “You hear them usually before you see them. It’s a quail call but a little more wavery.”

The research group studying the diversity of bacteria at Walker Lake

included Alicia Cupp, Elizabeth Janzen, Zehna Abdelhady, Julia McBride, Darcy Hornbeak and Lexey Akins. They were supervised by Professors Dr. Christian Copley-Salem, Dr. Tattersall and Dr. Smriti Bhattarai.

Researching the high variability of microbial genera between samples from Weber Reservoir were Maxwell Thornley, Adan Nunez-Soto and Eid Abdelhady. They were overseen by Dr. Copley-Salem, Dr. Tattersall and Dr. Bhattarai.

Lastly, the group researching COX-1b and COX-2a splice variants expressed in the MEG-01 human cell line included Emily A. Bird, James M. Cosman, Hunter E. McNabb, Sierra N. Williams, Ariana M. Wolf and Richard A. Robinson (BYU). They were supervised by Professors Rachelle M. Bassen and Dr. Gary Evett.

Zehna Abdelhady, who is a pursuing a nursing career, enjoyed the timing of the research projects.

“I like how it was right after school because everything was still fresh in my mind and I still was in that go-go-go attitude,” she said. 

For more information, contact Dr. Tattersall at or

Dr. Bhattarai at

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