Undergraduate student earns national recognition

Last year Bree Berg was one of 10 students nationwide—and the first WSU student ever—selected by the American Association for Cancer Research (AARC) to receive the Thomas F. Bardos Science Research Education Award. It is an honor recognizing the potential of exceptional next-generation scientists.

For 3 years, Berg immersed herself in prostate cancer research. Her investigations focused on part of a biomarker protein that is typically found in all stages of prostate cancer with greatest expression in late stage and metastatic illness. The research eventually could lead to development of an inhibitory peptide to stop the binding of the proteins that potentially aid the growth and metastasis of prostate cancer cells.

Berg believes strongly in the value of gaining laboratory research experience as an undergraduate. And the benefits go far beyond the immediate research, she emphasizes. “I started learning how to think critically about a project, how to manipulate experiments and variables to yield different results, and that really helped develop a lot of character traits, a lot of independence, a lot of ability to think.”

Winning the Bardos award provided Berg the opportunity to travel to the AARC’s annual meeting in San Diego last April. There she presented her research, which was coauthored by graduate student Brandan Cook in collaboration with WSU professor Cliff Berkman. Later she traveled to an AARC meeting in Philadelphia to share the next phase of her efforts, coauthored with undergraduate student Jack Hyder.