Roanoke College Senior Presents at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Conference

by roanokecollege on May 13, 2013


Maura Belanger recently presented her research project on purine biosynthesis in Archaea at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) annual meeting in Boston, MA. Maura’s research is based in the chemistry department and she works with “one archaeon in particular Sulfolobus solfataricus and the first step in purine biosynthesis, characterized by the PurF enzyme.”

Maura is a URAP student and has been doing research at Roanoke for three years now. She decided to get involved with research here because “it was something that I really wanted to explore and I thought that it would provide a good opportunity for further education. I thought that doing something no one else had done was really interesting and getting the chance to actually be published as an undergraduate was something that I hadn’t really found anywhere else.”

Maura’s faculty mentor is Dr. Cathy Sarisky and Maura explains that they work very closely. “Whenever I have questions she is there to help me or put me in the right direction. It has been great being able to get to know and work with a professor so closely over these past three years. Being able to focus and be with one professor really makes a difference and I think that it has only helped me and made this experience better.”


Maura chose this conference to present at due to its focus on biochemistry and this was her first time presenting at a major conference of this nature. Maura felt that presenting her research at this conference was a great experience overall. “Not only did I get to see what other undergraduate researchers are doing but I got a chance to show them what I had done as well. A lot of them were impressed by how my project was entirely student driven and that I had been able to complete so much without the help of a grad student. I also got to see that many times the students were just presenting research done in their labs and not research that they had actually done. I was really happy to present my research and show them what research at Roanoke is like.”

For students considering research opportunities, Maura advises to apply to URAP or talk to a professor in a field they are interested in. “You should do research if you are willing to put the time and effort into a project and if you want to work closely with an advisor. I would also tell them to not get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first, second, third or even fourth time you try something. If it were easy someone else would have done it by now too.”

For more information on the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, visit:

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