Louis-Jacques ’24 Earns Third Place at Annual Wistar Institute Symposium

By Ryan Hiemenz | March 7, 2024
Arslie with her poster at the symposium.

Senior biology major with a minor in neuroscience, Arslie Louis-Jacques, presented research from her senior thesis project at the annual Wistar Training Symposium at the Wistar Institute of the University of Pennsylvania on February 23, earning third place in the Best Undergraduate Poster category. 

Titled “Investigating the Relationship Between Metabolism and Anemia in Female Drosophila melanogaster,” her project observes an iron-dependent diet’s impact on HPV-induced cancer in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, explaining the role and importance of iron, as well as the issues that arise when living with iron deficiency anemia. Louis-Jacques also included socioeconomic factors that must be considered in conjunction with her research.

“I organized an educational intervention that speaks on iron deficiency anemia and HPV in African American women,” she explained. “I explained the disparities African American women face in the healthcare system and why it’s important to organize public interventions to educate individuals in socio-economically disadvantaged communities.”

In her research, Louis-Jacques found that iron plays a role in early development, and a low iron concentration both delays development and harms organelles, specifically nurse cells in female Drosophila egg chambers. Drosophila with high iron concentrations had healthier egg chambers and normal development.

The symposium consisted of three sessions of poster presentations for the undergraduate and graduate categories and three speaker presentations from graduate researchers. Throughout the day, there was time for students to talk with each other about their research, future plans, and more.

“I’m grateful to have had that experience, said Louis-Jacques. “I was able to network with aspiring researchers in the Philadelphia area and gain knowledge of the great work they are all doing. It was my first poster presentation, so I was a little nervous at first but all that was alleviated pretty quickly.”

Louis-Jacques is originally from Spring Valley, N.Y. At Arcadia, she is President of the Black Awareness Society and a student liaison for the Office of Access Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend a university to obtain a post-baccalaureate certification to gain further laboratory experience before applying to a PhD program.

“I am proud of my accomplishment,” she added. “It proves that my efforts and passions are important and valued. The fact it was also Black History Month at the time makes this so much more special because it shows that Black History is happening every day. The percentage of Black scientists is slim, but we exist and I am proud to represent!”