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WSU student Keesha Matz, credits her participation in W.F. West’s Molecular Genetics Program for inspiring her college pursuit in scientific research. The Chehalis Foundation supports all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in the Chehalis School District by providing financial resources not available through state or local tax dollars. They provide supplies and equipment for the STEM programs. Keesha writes:

I am grateful for the support I received at W.F. West with the outstanding teachers/faculty and amazing opportunities. Through the support of the Chehalis Foundation and guidance of Henri Weeks, the Molecular Genetics program got me enthusiastic about scientific research. As part of an accelerated Ph.D. program at WSU I plan to pursue an advanced degree within the School of Molecular Biosciences.

Keesha was among a select group of dedicated college science students that were invited to participate in the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held at the Seattle Convention Center. There, she gave a presentation on microbiology research to a panel of judges.

Here is Keesha Matz’s description of her experience at the convention:

This past weekend, November 11-14th, I had the phenomenal opportunity to give an oral presentation at a national undergraduate research conference (ABRCMS) in Seattle. Over 2,000 abstracts were accepted into the conference within twelve scientific disciplines. Out of these, the top eight abstracts from each of the disciplines were invited to give an oral presentation. I was one of eight students chosen for the microbiology category to give an oral presentation related to my research on the deadly zoonotic Nipah Virus. The judges scored my presentation very highly and at the awards ceremony for the conference I received an award of excellence for having one of the top oral presentations out of all the scientific disciplines.

Coming to Washington State University with prior research experience that I gained from Advanced Molecular Genetics at W.F. West accelerated me into working in a research laboratory during my second semester of college. I joined a virology research lab studying Nipah Virus under the direction of Dr. Hector Aguilar-Carreno. This newly discovered virus has a 40-90% human mortality rate and is a biosafety level 4 agent. We work with non-infectious particles of the virus to study its entry and exit mechanisms. Through a greater understanding of how the virus infects and spreads throughout the body we are one step closer to developing antiviral treatments against this deadly virus.

Chehalis Foundation congratulates Keesha Matz on her remarkable success. The Foundation’s partnership with Chehalis schools inspires and prepares students for higher educational opportunities. This success story is a testament to what can be accomplished when committed leadership and a supportive community share a vision.

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