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Hendrix College Senior Earns Award for Research Presentation

Zeihkia Byrd award Screen Shot 2021-02-03.png

CONWAY, Ark. (February 4, 2021) — Hendrix College student Zeihkia Byrd ’21, a biochemistry/molecular biology major from Maumelle, Arkansas, has won an award for her oral presentation in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category at the 2020 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. At the conference, held remotely in November, Byrd presented a talk titled “Computational Analysis of Potential Drug Antagonists Binding to a Model of the Human Kappa Opioid Receptor.” 

Her presentation summarized research she performed during the summer of 2020 under the guidance of Hendrix Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Caitlin Scott.

“I’m very proud of Zeihkia and all of her hard work,” Scott said. “I am glad that she was recognized for her scholarship and scientific contributions.” 

The conference, sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology, received more than 1,100 abstract submissions, and Byrd was one of just 212 awardees. She conducted her research through the Hendrix Odyssey Program, which also provided funding for her to attend and present at the conference.

“I aspire to go to medical school, so this project was important because it gave me exposure to the side of medical science based in the lab,” Byrd said. “Learning about drug design and interaction with protein structures has helped me understand the connection between biochemistry and psychiatry, which I hope to pursue as a medical student.”

Byrd’s research used computer simulation programs to help determine how various drugs interact with kappa opioid receptors, indicating which compounds have potential to address treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Scott, who had worked with a previous student to create a model protein of the kappa opioid receptor, made the ideal mentor for Byrd’s project. 

“Doing research during the summer of 2020 was particularly challenging, but Zeihkia was dedicated and rose to the occasion,” Scott said.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit