U of A Takes First, Second in Student Poster Competition

Jordana Thibado (left), Robert "Drew" Fleming
Photos submitted

Jordana Thibado (left), Robert "Drew" Fleming

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jordana Thibado, a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas, took first place in the student poster competition at the 76th Physical Electronics Conference held last week at the U of A.

Robert “Drew” Fleming, a graduate student at the U of A, took second in the competition, which featured 28 posters from students at universities across the United States and one from China.

The Physical Electronics Conference provides an annual forum for the dissemination and discussion of novel and fundamental theoretical and experimental research in the physics, chemistry, biology and engineering of surfaces and interfaces.

Thibado, from Fayetteville, graduated with honors in May with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. She presented a poster titled, “Cholesterol Influence on Arginine‐Containing Transmembrane Peptides.”

Thibado investigated the effect of cholesterol on small proteins called peptides that contain arginine, a positively charged amino acid. Her faculty mentor was Roger Koeppe II, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

“The goal of my work has been to find out how arginine plays an important role in cell-to-cell communication, a process that is likely disrupted in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” Thibado said. “These peptides are designed and created in our lab to span a synthetic lipid bilayer, which serves as a model cell membrane. I used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study our peptides in their model membrane environment and gain insight into their function. This research allows for insight into membrane protein function in a changing membrane environment and may be important for groups involved in drug design and development.”

In addition to Koeppe, her collaborators on the research were Ashley Martfeld Henderson, a doctoral student of chemistry and biochemistry, and Denise Greathouse, a research associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Thibado was in the Fulbright College Honors Program and the U of A’s Honors College. She will attend Weill Cornell Medical College to pursue a doctorate in biophysics. 

Fleming, from Batesville, is a doctoral student and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. His poster was titled, “Engineered Surfaces with Deformation‐Resistant Core-Shell Nanostructures.”

“Surface nano-texturing is an attractive method for designing surfaces with improved tribological properties, particularly for micro/nano-electro-mechanical systems applications,” Fleming said. “We patterned engineered surfaces comprised of arrays of novel core-shell nanostructures with high durability and ultra-low friction. The unique mechanical properties of these nanostructures provide avenues for designing engineered surfaces that could benefit a variety of fields, including micro/nano-electro-mechanical systems, microelectronics, magnetic recording, or any other application when the mechanical integrity of nanostructures is important.”

Fleming’s faculty mentor and co-author on the poster was Min Zou, Twenty-First Century Professor of mechanical engineering and director of the statewide Center for Advanced Surface Engineering.

Fleming graduated with honors from the U of A in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and minors in mathematics and physics. He was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship and a member of the Honors College. He also holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U of A.





Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
University Relations
479-575-4737, cwbranam@uark.edu


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