Benjamin Lantz, a senior at Eastern New Mexico University, received the "Top Undergraduate Poster Presenter Award" at the Protein Society's 31st Annual Symposium in Montreal, Canada. He competed against 150 undergraduates from around the world to win the honor.
The Protein Society's Symposium is an annual event that brings together top protein researchers from all over the world to discuss their new findings and provides opportunities for future collaborations.
The science student's research focused on the "electrostatic effects that salts have on a yeast SH3 domain protein's stability that is also found in humans."
Benjamin's award-winning poster contained an outline of the hypothesis, methods and results/conclusions of his research.
He presented his poster during one of three two-hour long poster sessions where judges and researchers had the chance to look-over and discuss posters with their presenters.
"Our lab found out about this event through our PI [principal investigator], Dr. Elliot Stollar [associate professor of chemistry at ENMU], as well as the ENMU HSI-STEM department," explained Benjamin. "Knowing that the Protein Society's Symposium is the largest conference centered around protein research, we were very excited to network with other labs in the same field."
The lab also presented at the 2017 NM-INBRE Symposium, where Benjamin gave a talk on his research, and the ENMU 2017 Student Research Conference, where Benjamin won one of the categories.
Benjamin's future lab-related plan is to publish the research he has been doing, "hopefully within the next year."
He hopes to pursue a career in either dentistry, which he has been "interested in for a number of years" or in a "research field closer to clinical trials.
"I hope to have an impact on others in whatever career I choose."
Benjamin was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico with four siblings: Kyle, Lucas, Jessica and Jacob. His mother is a pediatric cardiologist and his father is a dentist.
The 2014 Manzano High School graduate chose to attend Eastern because he was "given the opportunity to run cross country and track, but also for the small class sizes and ability to work closely with professors.
"I have had a number of friends and professors that have helped mentor me here at ENMU, Matthew Dominquez, Dr. Stollar and Dr. [Matthew] Barlow being the most important.
"Matthew is currently the research assistant in the ENMU biochem laboratory and has closely mentored me from the day I started."
Dr. Stollar "pushed" Benjamin in his research for the past two years, giving him advice and "teaching me skills from organization to writing that will help me in my future career."
Dr. Barlow has been a "great mentor" to Benjamin "during and after his classes. He has always been open to discuss my questions and concerns about the future, from advice about running, to decisions about dental school or a master's program.
"Both of these professors have greatly influenced me during my time here at ENMU," Benjamin explained.
He is expected to graduate from ENMU with a bachelor's degree in biology with minors in chemistry and psychology in May 2018.
"I chose biology as my major because I have always been interested in life sciences, which I likely inherited from both of my parents," he said.
The four-time Dean's List honoree was recently awarded a pre-dental scholarship and has been involved with the Pre-Dental Society, the Caduceus Health Society and the Wesley Foundation.