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Tyler Rowsey has always possessed a love for sciences, but developed an appreciation for research while serving as an intern at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City last summer.

His research experience and findings will be shared at the Fourth Annual Dr. Raniyah C. Ramadan Neuroscience Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. in ECU’s Foundation Hall of the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

The Ramadan Symposium, which is free and open to the public, is named in honor of the late Dr. Raniyah Ramadan, who was a research scientist in neuro-ophthalmology. The symposium will feature three other speakers from the neuroscience field and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center - Dr. Anne Kasus-Jacobi, Dr. Darren Lee and Dr. Phillip Coburn, along with Dr. David Weir, director of the Dr. Raniyah C. Ramadan Center for Undergraduate Research and Learning on the ECU campus.

A senior from Allen and recipient of the Raniyah Ramadan Scholarship generously given by the Ramadan family, Rowsey is gearing up for graduation this spring and is headed to medical school at the OU health and Sciences Center in the fall. He is part of ECU’s Presidential Leadership Program and McNair Scholars Programs and majors in both biology and chemistry with a minor in mathematics.

Working under Dr. Dimitrios Karamichos at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, Rowsey’s research centered on corneal diabetes.

“Our investigation consisted of IGF-1 and IGF-2 on healthy corneal fibroblasts,” said Rowsey. “It’s a relatively new field and there’s not a lot known about it.”

IGF-1 and IGF-2 refer to the insulin growth factors in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, according to Rowsey, who will share his findings at the symposium.

“I’m pretty excited. I like to give oral presentations and have presented research at the Oklahoma Academy of Science,” Rowsey said. “I think it is fun to get up and tell about something you like to do. Dr. Karamichos is really smart, young and brilliant. He was great to work under and I learned a ton. He taught me a bunch of research techniques and how to be a successful researcher.”

Rowsey says Karamichos took him under his wing to the point of learning everything about the lab as well as having opportunities to shadow other researchers and get exposed to many types of research.

Rowsey has also worked on a research project for the McNair Scholars Program with Dr. Charles Biles, professor in ECU’s Biology Department. Their project consists of the altered expression of isozymes on different species of fungal cells through treatment NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

He has served as president of Tri-Beta (National Biological Honor Society), officer in the Chemistry Club and held office in the Sigma Tau Gamma for two years at ECU.

Rowsey played basketball, football and golf while running track at Allen High School and was part of FFA as well as being involved in different leadership organizations.

Dr. Tawfik Z. Ramadan, the father of the late Raniyah Ramadan, and his family sponsor the event to honor their daughter, who was a research scientist in neuro-ophthalmology.

“Our daughter had a belief in promoting science and research, especially in the neuroscience field,” said Tawfik Ramadan. “We do this because we feel that we belong to ECU.”

Following are brief biographies for the scheduled speakers for the symposium:

Dr. Anne Kasus-Jacobi

Kasus-Jacobi is an assistant professor of research in the OUHSC Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences where she works in the lab of Dr. Anne Pereira, who is dean of the Graduate College.

Kasus-Jacobi’s research is related to applications such as new antibiotics for corneal wound-healing, eye infections and anti-bacterial possibilities with the peptides being studied.

She worked at the Dean McGee Eye Institute for several years, working on photo-receptor cells and retinal degeneration. She was there concurrently with the late Raniyah Ramadan, who also did research related to ophthalmology before she graduated.

Dr. Darren Lee

Lee joined the faculty at OUHSC with the Department of Ophthalmology and the Dean McGee Eye Institute in April.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in genetics at the University of California-Davis before earning his Ph.D., also in genetics, at the University of New Hampshire. Lee did his post-doctoral fellowship in Boston at the Boston University School, Harvard University School of Medicine and the famous Schepens Eye Research Institute.

While at Schepens, he received a fellowship entitled the “Molecular Bases of Eye Diseases” with the National Eye Institute. Lee also received active R01 funding through the National Eye Institute.

Dr. Phillip Coburn

Coburn is the assistant professor of research in the OUHSC Department of Ophthalmology.

In recent years, he has focused on his own research program which resolves around certain types of eye infections and the mechanisms of several bacteria frequently involved.

Coburn has a broad background in microbiology and molecular biology. He studied at the University of Tulsa for his bachelor’s degree, before going to Oregon for his master’s degree in science and returning to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center where he earned his Ph.D.

Dr. David Weir

Weir began teaching at ECU in 2012 and currently serves as director of the Dr. Raniyah Ramadan Center for Undergraduate Research and Learning.

Weir holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue University and a master’s degree in art history from Texas Tech University. As an undergraduate, he was a research fellow working with a professor doing research on native language loss among the Navajo people of Arizona.


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