Two West Liberty University students tied for first place at a national science convention recently. Rebecca Barnes, a biology major from Wheeling, and McKensie Mason, a chemistry major from Pickerington, Ohio, presented on their research at the Chi Beta Phi Conference and earned first place and a $100 prize (each).

Barnes presentation was “The Role of the Erythrocyte Cytoskeleton Protein Spectrin during Red Blood Cell Invasion by Francisella tularensis” and was done in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Horzempa. She is secretary of the WLU Chi Beta Phi Chapter and is a senior pre-med major.

Mason’s presentation was on “Synthesis of trans-Pterocarpans.” Mason, who is a senior, did her research in the laboratory of Dr. Teunis Van Aardt and plans to continue her scientific work in graduate school in the field of chemical engineering.

A total of five WLU students attended the conference held at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va. on Oct. 24.

Austin Cusick of Shadyside, Ohio, is the president of WLU’s Chapter of Chi Beta Phi. A junior pre-med major, he also attended the conference with juniors Ashley Haught and Taylor Rogerson, both of Moundsville, W.Va.

“The conference was a very interesting experience. It was nice to see other people share their experiences in science. We also could network with other students and professors. I’m grateful to have this chance to share WLU’s research at a national level,” said Cusick.

“Considering that this is a national honorary society based on a GPA of 3.0 in the sciences, our students truly did perform well on a national level and excelled!” said Dr. Van Aardt, who is an assistant professor of chemistry and also attended the conference.

“For most of the students this was their first oral presentation. All were really good, especially considering the competition. None of the presentations were weak,” said Van Aardt. “Our chapter also won the most improved chapter nomination.”

Cusick claimed that much of the improvement reflects on recent WLU graduate Jesse Hall, the former chapter president.

Chi Beta Phi is an interdisciplinary scientific honorary for undergraduates.  An affiliate society of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since 1935, it seeks to promote interest in science and to gain recognition for scholarly scientific attainment.

Member colleges include: Randolph-Macon College, Va.; Hampden-Sydney College, Va.; University of Charleston, W.Va.; Davis & Elkins College, W.Va.; Marshall University, W.Va.; Limestone College, S.C.; The University of Mary Washington, Va.; University of Memphis, Tenn.; Columbia College, S.C.; Lynchburg College, Va.; Lenoir-Rhyne University, N.C.; Franklin College, Ind.; Keuka College, N.Y.; William Carey College, Miss.; Newberry College, S.C.; Glenville State College, W.Va.; Athens State College, Ala.; State University of Oneonta, N.Y.; St. Francis College, N.Y.; University of Rio Grande, Ohio; Arkansas College, Ark.; Molloy College, N.Y.; Rust College, Miss.; Shenandoah University, Va. and the University, Ala.