SHSU Forensic Chemistry Student Wins Award

Sam Houston State University forensic chemistry senior Brittany Winner, from Kingsville, is not only a “winner” in name, but also in deed as the recipient of the 2012 Society of Toxicology Pfizer Undergraduate Student Travel Award.

Pfizer selects five outstanding undergraduates in the nation each year who are presenting research at the organization’s annual meeting to receive travel support and free registration for the meeting. This year’s conference is March 11-15 in San Francisco.

Awardees are selected based on the quality of a submitted poster abstract, personal statement, and an adviser’s supporting recommendation. The purpose of the award is to foster an interest in graduate studies in the field of toxicology.

Winner will have an opportunity to showcase her work along with a number of other students interested in toxicological research during the week. Winner researches the properties of cyanide and methods to encapsulate it in order to create an antidote against its deadly effects.
Her interest in toxicology and cyanide arose from a mentorship with Ilona Petrikovics, professor of chemistry and Sam Houston State’s expert on the studies of cyanide.

“She talked about her work with cyanide in class, and I found it really interesting so I asked if I could be involved,” said Winner. Petrikovics’s research on cyanide is an ongoing project funded by the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense. The study focuses on methods to dissipate its effects on the general population in case of cyanide use in bio-terrorism and/or poisoning.

During the mentorship, the relationship between Winner and Petrikovics developed into a strong partnership.

“We had weekly lab meetings that lasted about an hour. Outside the lab I’d also just drop by and we’d talk. We talked about the research and other aspects of life,” Winner said.

At the conference, Winner will be presented with a plaque for her accomplishments during an awards ceremony. The conference also provides a range of opportunities for companies to view and come into contact with different types of research and scholars.

“It’s a great place for networking,” Winner said.

Throughout the convention, she will have contact with many people and be able to attend Pfizer events. She will also be matched with a Pfizer scientist who will serve as a mentor for the conference. Winner’s research will be published in the conference’s collection of research, where companies will be able to review her research and contact her for more information.

Winner will graduate in May and has been accepted into the doctoral program at Michigan State University. After receiving her doctorate she hopes to continue her research in toxicology and work in the industry.

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