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.”
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
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.
during the summer of 2020 was particularly challenging, but Zeihkia was
dedicated and rose to the occasion,” Scott said.
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 www.hendrix.edu.