UMW News BureauThe American Society for Microbiology (ASM) recently awarded a research fellowship to University of Montana Western biology student Amanda Kortum. The fellowship requires at least ten weeks of research beginning in June, and Kortum will present her findings at the ASM General Meeting next summer. By Ashley Makowski [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Amanda Kortum in the Montana Western biology lab."][/caption] The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) recently awarded a research fellowship to University of Montana Western biology student Amanda Kortum. The fellowship requires at least ten weeks of research beginning in June, and Kortum will present her findings at the ASM General Meeting next summer. Kortum will use the fellowship to continue her research on Candida albicans, a pathogenic yeast found in the human body. She will specifically focus on the protein Sec63 to determine its role in secreting proteins from the cell, a process required for this yeast to become pathogenic. “The fellowship will help provide the basis of knowledge I might need to get into veterinary school, and it will provide a nice foundation for further research endeavors,” said Kortum. Pathogenic yeasts are known to cause infections such as vaginitis and oral thrush, and in immunocompromised patients, these infections can be fatal. Understanding the role of the Sec63 protein may allow scientists to develop drugs that could prevent pathogenesis. After Kortum graduates from Montana Western, she plans to go to veterinary school to pursue her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and a Ph.D. In addition to patient care, she would like to be involved in veterinary research to further the healthcare of animals. The fellowship is a nationally competitive program in which undergraduate students submit research proposals from across the country. Only a handful of those students are selected by the ASM. “Because of that, it is pretty amazing one of our students was awarded the fellowship,” said Michael Morrow, Montana Western biology professor. Morrow added that Kortum’s fellowship award shows that science students at Montana Western are successful in competing on the national level, which might point potential students to Montana Western when they learn about the opportunities available to them. “There’s nothing more experiential for undergraduate science students than to develop research grants and to conduct research in their field of interest,” Morrow said. Kortum also recently participated in the Montana Academy of Sciences annual conference and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and will participate in the Montana Western Research Symposium on April 23 and 24. Click here for more on the symposium and conferences.