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Asking the questions that matter

It was a perfect way to wrap up Shannon Hayes' senior year at Lehigh.

The bioengineering student took home top honors at Lehigh Engineering's 2017 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Hayes won for her research, "Inhibition of an RTX Toxin Using Small Receptor-Based Peptides." Hayes has been pursuing her research under the supervision of Angela Brown, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Her research explores therapeutic solutions that can effectively administer the treatment of bacterial infections, she said. The general idea is to use anti-virulence strategies in order to nullify bacteria’s effects and toxins rather than killing them en masse, as is the case with many antibacterial medications today.

Hayes’ particular research project shows that synthetic peptides have the ability to restrict the effects of the bacterial toxin, LtxA. She and her team believe that these synthetic peptides could have similar effects on other bacterial toxins in the same family as LtxA and following further study, the peptides could have potential clinical applications.

"It is an honor to be named the winner and have our work be recognized," Hayes said. "I am very grateful for the engineering grant that allowed me to pursue this research over the past summer and I am also very grateful to the David and Lorraine Freed Research Symposium for allowing us to present our work." Hayes also presented her work at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society national conference.

Get a full recap of the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium at the Lehigh Engineering website.

Story by Matthew Cossel