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Bridges to Baccalaureate Scholars earn top accolades at conference

young woman explains research poster to bystander
Cat Merrill presents research at conference

Cat Merrill and Cooper McGrath, scholars of the Southwestern Idaho Bridges to Baccalaureate program and students in the Department of Biological Sciences at Boise State, recently earned awards for their research at the Idaho INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Excellence) Conference.

Merrill won first place in the Fast Pitch Science competition, explaining her research to the audience in three minutes. Merrill has been working with Professor Don Warner from the Department of Chemistry. By adding a dash of “alchemy,” Merrill focuses on modeling small molecule inhibitors that can have an impact on how the body responds to breast cancer cells.

McGrath earned first place in the Undergraduate Summer Research Student Choice award for his research poster at the conference. Working under the mentorship of Professor Cheryl Jorcyk in the Department of Biological Sciences, McGrath’s research centers around the manipulation of protein in breast cancer cells to prevent potential metastasis and improve overall outcomes for patients. McGrath received his bachelor’s degree in the spring 2022 semester.

man smiles at camera
Cooper McGrath

The INBRE Conference gathers top scholars from the state as they present their work on various aspects of biomedical research. All colleges and universities in the state participate, sending students and faculty to Moscow, Idaho every year.

The Southwestern Idaho Bridges to Baccalaureate program is a two-year support and research program, funded by the National Institute of Health, for students from the College of Western Idaho to transfer to Boise State and pursue biomedical research. The program aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented populations in Idaho who are interested in the biomedical sciences.