USM Honors College Students Present Research at U.S. Capitol

May 01, 2017

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Two University of Southern Mississippi Honors College students recently participated in Posters on the Hill, an event in which 60 undergraduates from nearly every state in the nation shared their research with legislators and administration officials in the U.S. Capitol April 25-26.


Britton Strickland, a senior from Hattiesburg majoring in biological sciences, and Maya Rex of Ocean Springs, a junior majoring in Psychology, were chosen to take part in the event coordinated by The Council of Undergraduate Research, which selects less than 10 percent of applicants to participate. USM was the only institution in the nation to have two students accepted for the program.


Rex’s project examines the role of facial features as well as skin color in determining racial bias in school children. Her faculty mentor, Elena Stepanova, said, “Maya’s research investigates a question that has not been addressed in the literature, and is one that has very important implications for social policy.”  Rex’s work won an award at the 2016 Southern Miss Undergraduate Symposium for Research and Creative Activity, and was recently presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Memphis. After graduation, she plans to become a lawyer, specializing in social justice issues.


In his research, Strickland identifies structural elements called mirtrons that guide production of small regulatory DNAs. “This was an amazing opportunity to remind our government of the unbelievable power of biomedical research and its importance to both global education and health,” he said.  Britton has worked in the lab of faculty member Alex Flynt since his sophomore year, and has presented his work at venues such as the Southern Miss Undergraduate Symposium and Posters in the Rotunda 2017, the state version of Posters on the Hill.  He plans on attending graduate school after finishing his degree.


In addition to showcasing their work in poster form in the rotunda in the U.S. Capitol, students also learned how to advocate for undergraduate research as they met with members of both the Senate and House of Representatives.


For information about student research opportunities at Southern Miss, visit