Breast Cancer Research Earns ASU Student a Travel Award to Attend National Conference in D.C.

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By Hazel Scott/ASU
A coveted travel award was presented by the National Science Foundation (NSF)  to Eric Thompson, a research student in Alabama State University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, to present his research on breast cancer at the NSF’s Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference on Feb. 9-11, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

The biology major’s presentation is on Breast Cancer Prevalence and Socioeconomic Influence.  More specifically, he will discuss “Understanding the Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Breast Cancer Occurrence in Alabama.”

“Factors such as biological conditions, genes, and reproductive history play a significant role in the breast cancer epidemic; it is a well-known factor that socioeconomic status (SES) also influences breast cancer health disparity. It is more severe in the state of Alabama due to the given poor SES, particularly in the minority women population in the Black Belt counties,” said Dr. Ram Alagan, professor of geography and interim director of the  W.E.B. Du Bois Honors program. 

Alagan pointed out that SES perspectives are vital for CBRT students to understand the multidimensional aspects of cancer research and education.

Thompson conducted his research in ASU’s Cancer Biology Research and Training (CBRT) labs under the supervision of Alagan, who is training him on Geospatial Technology (GT),  and Dr. Manoj Mishra, founding director of CBRT and professor of biology,  who is supervising Thompson on the biological aspects of the research. Dr.  Seela​ ​Aladuwaka also joined the CBRT team and connected the aspect of SES and its significance to this cancer research.

Both Alagan and Mishra pointed out that the research is the integration of breast cancer prevalence and Geospatial Technology.  

Other Student Researchers Travelling to D.C.

Along with Thompson, four more student researchers, who will receive conference support from the CBRT, will participate in the ERN conference. The students are Jazmyn Greggs, Kaylen Williams, Soleil Johnson and Katelyn Baxter.  

“This opportunity provides ASU students with a tremendous opportunity to learn about the prospect of cancer research, have contact with the cancer research corporate world and provide graduate school opportunities,” Mishra said.

Alagan echoed Mishra.

“One of the missions is to provide the necessary CBRT and expose students to real-world opportunities such as academic conferences and employment prospects,” Alagan said.

In using innovative GT, Alagan’s collaboration with CBRT brings another perspective to cancer research and education.

“Exposing CBRT students to GT is of profound significance due to its role in the spatial perspective nature of the research and, most importantly, it being associated with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence application in cancer research,”  added Alagan.