• Staff report

EPCC RISE Students Win Three Awards at ABRCMS Conference

The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) Conference have announced the winners for this year’s virtual competition.


El Paso Community College (EPCC) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) to the Challenge Bridge Program students D'Janique Wallace (Microbiology), Oscar Velasquez (Neuroscience) and Adrian Sosa Ontiveros (Neuroscience) won in their respective categories.


There were 1100 undergraduate student research presentations from colleges and universities throughout the U.S., and 200 awards were presented in a variety of categories.


D'Janique Wallace




EPCC was the first community college to be funded by the National Institutes of Health’s RISE Program, now called RISE to the Challenge Bridge Program.


“The program offers paid year-round internships for EPCC students to conduct scientific research and present their projects at regional and national scientific conferences,” Dr. Maria Alvarez, Professor, Biology Coordinator, RISE and Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program Director said.


Oscar Velasquez




“The goal is to provide EPCC students with all the tools to be successful in their science and mathematics classes at EPCC, so they can transfer to a four-year university including UTEP and NMSU and graduate with a baccalaureate degree and, eventually a PhD.”


Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, the lab being closed for 4 months, a couple of lab shut downs and participating in a virtual conference for the first time, five EPCC students were able to finish their research projects.


Adrian Sosa Ontiveros




This included developing a poster presentation, creating a five-minute recording to explain their projects and defending judges’ questions through email.


The five-student presentations were:


- D'Janique Wallace, Microbiology Award, Identification of Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase and Carbapenemase producing Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Raw Sewage


- Oscar Velasquez, Neuroscience Award, Is there Sexual Dimorphism in Electric Organ Morphology and Muscle Fiber Type Composition of Brachypopomus Pinnicaudatus?


- Adrian Sosa Ontiveros, Neuroscience Award, Impacts of Scully Mutants in Lifespan of Drosophila Melanogaster


- Alessandra Martinez, Identification of Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase and Carbapenemase Producing Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in the Rio Grande River


- Stephanie Phillips, Presence of Wolbachia Endosymbiont in Anthophila in El Paso, Texas

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