ASU Biology Major Wins National Research Award

News Date

By Hazel Scott/ASU

Brittany Hume-Dawson, an undergraduate biology major at Alabama State University, has won second place in the Biological Sciences Undergraduate Oral Presentation division at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference held in Washington, D.C.

This is the third year that ASU’s Forensic Science Program has received top honors in the ERN oral presentation competition.

The title of Hume-Dawson’s presentation was “Gut-associated Bacteria in Human Postmortem Brains.” The important research seeks to uncover the microorganisms in the brains of cadavers to provide identification tools for forensic investigations.

“To date, this study’s results represent the first of its kind to connect gut-associated microbes to decomposing brain samples from actual criminal case cadavers using next-generation sequencing, an important analytical tool for many genomics researchers,” said Hume-Dawson.

The research was conducted under the mentorship of ASU’s nationally acclaimed expert on forensic science, Dr. Gulnaz Javan of the Javan Thanatos Lab.

“Brittany worked really hard for the presentation and hard work pays off. Congratulations. Very well done,” said Javan.

Hume-Dawson, who serves as an ASU Golden Ambassador, said the ERN conference was truly a great experience.

“ERN was a wonderful opportunity,” said Hume-Dawson. “I got to experience cutting-edge professional presentations in all aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). I was surrounded by motivated young scientists who were passionate about their research. I felt prepared to present thanks to Dr. Javan’s mentorship. I express the utmost gratitude to the Thanatos Lab Group for this experience.”

Dr. Sheree Finley, a microbiologist in the Physical Sciences Department at ASU, recalls how excited she was when she won the covenant competition as a graduate student.

“I am proud that Brittany has joined me in highlighting the outstanding research of the ASU Thanatos Lab on a national stage,” said Finley.

Hume-Dawson’s accomplishments were also praised by Dr. Cynthia Harris, director of W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program at ASU.

“We congratulate her for winning second place. Brittany is an outstanding student and one of the top students in Alabama State University’s W.E.B. DuBoise Honors Program,” said Harris.

The undergraduate student’s success didn’t go unnoticed by the Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences and Forensic Science Programs, Dr. Robert L. Green.

“The faculty, staff and students are extremely proud of Ms. Hume-Dawson's accomplishment at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) conference in Washington D.C.,” Green said. “This recognition serves as motivation to her peers that outstanding research opportunities happen at Alabama State University and is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of faculty members to help guide students to achieve their goals.”

ERN is a national conference that highlights the research of undergraduate and graduate students who participate in the NSF-sponsored research programs.