Ashlee Seldomridge and her research advisor, Paul Chantler, Ph.D., assistant professor in the WVU School of Medicine’s Department of Exercise Physiology and the clinical research director for the Center for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences, have earned the honor of participating in the 20th annual Posters on the Hill event, a selective poster session sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), based in Washington, D.C.
“Research has taught me at least three things,” Seldomridge, a West Virginia University Exercise Physiology major and Honors College student, said. “It has allowed me to have hands-on experience with research design, it has taught me how dynamic the field of science is and that what we read in textbooks and learn in lecture stems from research itself, and it has showed me how to communicate ideas in a technical manner. Specifically, I learned how to intellectually bounce ideas off of fellow students, and present my findings in front of a larger audience.”
Seldomridge’s winning submission, “Detrimental Changes in Perivascular Adipose Tissue Gene Expression in metabolic syndrome Recovered with Exercise Training,” was one of only 60 projects chosen from several hundred highly competitive applications from undergraduate students at colleges and universities nationwide for this year’s undergraduate research showcase.
“I am excited to represent West Virginia University at Posters on the Hill this spring and to get to present to members of Congress and congressional aides, advocating for undergraduate research,” Seldomridge said. “I have always wanted to be involved in research. My main interest is in medicine, and research provides the hard science underlying any medical advances.”
The annual two-day event, held April 19-20, affords an elite group of students the opportunity to share their undergraduate research with members of Congress, congressional staff, federal government officials, academics and other researchers. CUR’s annual Posters on the Hill event is an important opportunity for lawmakers to see how federal programs and dollars impact students and faculty, and to learn about the value of undergraduate research. WVU Honors College and the Office of Undergraduate Research are facilitating participation in this event.
“Our lab examines the effects of exercise on cardiac and arterial function in individuals with Metabolic syndrome,” Seldomridge said. “Metabolic syndrome is a classification of risk factors, including obesity and high cholesterol that significantly increases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, and that disease is fatal.”
Specifically, Ashlee works to understand the regulation of reactive substances that alter arterial, or blood vessel, function. She measures the protein release from the fat tissue surrounding the aorta, called perivascular adipose tissue. Dr. Chantler’s lab believes that this fat tissue causes harmful effects on vessels in obese people. Researchers there also want to examine how the protein release changes after exercise.
“Ashlee’s work in the lab, along with her colleague, Evan DeVallance, has provided important insights on how the metabolic syndrome alters the signals coming from the perivascular fat, and how exercise training can rescue this perivascular fat signal,” Dr. Chantler said. “The presentation of her undergraduate research to members of congress is an important step as we need to train our undergraduates to be our new future leaders in science, medicine and research and to continue the fight to limit the burden of cardiovascular disease on society.”
Numerous hours volunteering eventually led to an internship and a highly competitive fellowship in Dr. Chantler’s lab. Ashlee chose to work with Dr. Chantler because she believes the research occurring in his lab will make an impact on West Virginia, as the number of cases of diabetes and metabolic syndrome are increasing at historic levels.
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