RIC Students Win Regional Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Poster Contest

Deborah Britt, assistant professor of biology, Sabrina Elgar '14, and Sarah Bilida '15.

Deborah Britt, assistant professor of biology, Sabrina Elgar '14, and Sarah Bilida '15.


Rhode Island College biology majors Sarah Bilida ’15 and Sabrina Elgar ’14 were awarded the ‘Best Poster’ award at the 5th Biennial Northeast Regional Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Conference over the summer.

Their winning entry, “Defining a Role for BCp1 in the DNA Damage Response,” will be featured at the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Poster Session on Sept. 20 from noon to 2 p.m. in Alger Hall Room 110.

“Attending the IDeA conference in Delaware this summer was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Elgar. “We were in shock when we heard our names called as first place winners.”

Elgar, who recently was elected Biology Club president, and Bilida are members of SURF, a program that offers summer research opportunities to qualified undergraduates considering a career in biomedical and behavioral research.

The students served last summer as part of Assistant Professor of Biology Deborah Britt’s research team examining how cells repair damaged DNA.

Their poster was a summary of the data they collected during research.

Britt received news of her students’ victory via text message, as she was unable to attend the IDeA conference.

“I opened a text and it was a picture of the poster with the blue first place ribbon on top of it,” said Britt. “I was really excited and very proud of them.”

The conference featured work from participants in all five states of the Northeast IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence, a network that provides grants to biomedical researchers and colleges, including those from Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island and Vermont. 

Britt said the RIC SURF Poster Session will feature work by RIC SURF students and is an opportunity for the RIC community to see the high level of research that goes on at RIC.

“I don’t think people have any idea how much research we actually do,” she said.

Elgar and Bilida’s poster recently was featured at the 2013 RI SURF Conference at the University of Rhode Island, where SURF researchers from all over the state displayed their work.