Belmont Shines at Tennessee Academy of Science Annual Meeting for 2020

Valini Ramcharan
Biology and Chemistry Alumna Valini Ramcharan

Biology faculty and students presented their research at the virtual 130th Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Academy of Science in November 2020.  Four student presentations earned awards, and Belmont biology faculty were recognized for their contributions to the Academy. Biology and chemistry alumna Valini Ramcharan received the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award. 

A 2014 alumna, Ramcharan was appointed the Instructional Coach for Science at the LEAD School at Neely’s Bend in Madison this past summer, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Prior to that, she was a 6th grade science teacher and content lead for science at the LEAD School at Cameron in Nashville. 

Ramcharan’s transition from LEAD Cameron to LEAD Neely’s Bend coincided with a move from a place where she had taught students in a classroom, to one where she had to learn to nourish minds in a virtual world.  She uses common platforms that many of us are now familiar with, such as Zoom, Clever and Google Classroom. Her science students have also been experimenting with pHet simulations that provide a wide variety of web-based lab opportunities. She has young students performing density labs in their kitchens and building generators online. Additionally, her students use their technology skills for education of others and for building their school community.  Her students are regular contestants at the annual Middle Tennessee Science and Engineering Fair (MTSEF) – with more than 20 students submitting entries this past year.  The Chair of the Scientific Review Committee noted that her students submit proposals that are thoroughly complete, scientifically rigorous and creative. 

Biology Professor and Department Chair Dr. Jennifer Thomas delivered her presentation, “Where they are and where you want to lead them: guiding biology students in their first semester of college.”

Biology Professor Dr. Darlene Panvini completed her year as president of The Tennessee Academy of Science and was recognized as a TAS Fellow. Biology Professor Dr. Steve Murphree serves as the treasurer of the Academy. 

Student and faculty poster sessions and awards included:

  • Marinia Bishay and Dr. Nikki Glenn were awarded Second Place in the Cell and Molecular Biology/Botany poster session for “The effects of twist1 and twist2 on sclerotome differentiation into tendon progenitors in zebrafish.”
  • Grace Hurley and Dr. Nikki Glenn were awarded Third Place in the Cell and Molecular Biology/Botany poster session for “Twist1b knockout in zebrafish.” 
  • Aleya Prasad and Dr. Nikki Glenn received Honorable Mention in the Cell and Molecular Biology/Botany poster session for “Effect of activating the endocannabinoid system on zebrafish embryo development.” 
  • Taylor Ruscitti, Bethany Wood, Gerald Archer, Dr. Chris Barton and Dr. Darlene Panvini were awarded Second Place in Ecology and Environmental Science poster session for  “Corticolous lichen species richness and abundance in relation to proximity of traffic in Nashville, Tennessee.”
  • Joaquin Pasco, William Messick and Dr. Darlene Panvini also presented “Occurrence of birds in relation to tree canopy cover in an urban environment.”