Fil-Am from Saipan chosen by Harvard U to attend National Collegiate Research Conference

Dhale Posadas. Image © Lori Lyn Lirio

FORMER student of Saipan Southern High School Dhale Posadas was selected by Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association to attend the three-day National Collegiate Research Conference beginning January 18.

“The application process this year was extremely competitive as we received a large number of impressive applications from many talented and highly qualified individuals, and our executive board and faculty review committee faced the difficult challenge of selecting fewer than 250 undergraduates across the United States and several countries. Your acceptance speaks to your outstanding accomplishments and potential as an aspiring scholar and researcher,” stated in a letter sent to Posadas by HCURA.

The NCRC is the largest student-run research conference in the United States.

Posadas, whose parents are of Filipino descent, is currently attending Portland State University, majoring in Biology. She is now in her senior year and will be graduating in June 2018.

To be selected in the NCRC, Posadas said she had to go through the process by applying and submitting the abstract of her research and she has to write an essay.

“To attend NCRC is such an honor. When I found out I was selected, I was a little shaky while having dinner with some friends. I lost my appetite to eat due to the excitement and emotions that were running through me. I also could not sleep well the night I found out because it felt so unreal,” she said.

She also applied as a plenary speaker but no confirmation yet from HCURA. Only eight students will be selected for this.

“Not everyone from our tiny little island is given this opportunity, so it is something I am very proud yet humble of. Science has always been a strong subject of mine. I did not even know that doing research in college existed because I was not exposed to it when I was in high-school. I hope to inspire students in our island that opportunities like these are very possible through hard work and determination,” she added.

Posadas, who graduated at the SSHS in 2014 and top 8 in her class, said getting an invitation from NCRC is important to her “because I get represent my institution, women scientists and most importantly, my home.”

“Due to isolation of our island, opportunities like these aren’t easily accessible,” she added.

At the conference, Posadas will be presenting her research work titled ‘Odd versus Even: Medium-chain triglyceride absorption in patients with long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders.’

“It means the burning of fat,” she explained.

She is currently doing her internship at Oregon Health and Sciences University under Dr. Melanie Gillingham’s lab, where she started working on fatty-acid oxidation research.

“I chose this lab because I was very interested in diabetes. My dad is diabetic and so was my grandma. I did the nursing program in high-school at Saipan Southern and I was very exposed to diabetics. I grew up around diabetics, so I know diabetes is a big issue and other non-communicable diseases are in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which makes this topic even more important to me,” she said.

After high school, Posadas attended the Northern Marianas College in 2014.

“I’ve always wanted to major in Biology but that was not an option at NMC. I decided to try Criminal Justice but after a semester I realized that it wasn’t for me,” she said in an interview.

Through NMC, a program called Build EXITO BUILD EXITO or Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity Enhanced Cross-Disciplinary Infrastructure Training at Oregon was introduced. She applied and was accepted.

Build EXITO is an undergraduate research training program funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

“Because of this program I was able to fly out of Saipan in 2015 and attend Portland State University,” she said, adding students under the program get tuition remission and monthly stipends for their time doing hands-on research.

She was required to do 100 hours of research per quarter.

Since August 2016, Posadas have been doing research for a total of 400 hours.

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  1. Pingback: Fil-Am from Saipan chosen by Harvard U to attend National Collegiate Research Conference - Duterte Daily

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