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ODU Undergraduate Student Amy Vinarao Receives National Research Award

by Erica Howell

Amy Vinarao, a student at Old Dominion University (ODU), has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Clinical Laboratory Educators Forum (CLEF) Student Research Competition. The competition, organized by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), recognizes outstanding research conducted by students in the field of clinical laboratory science.

Vinarao, a pre-Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) student, collaborated with Professor Angela Wilson on a research project titled "Deliverable Fresh Meal Kits: Food Safety." Inspired by her experience working at international grocery stores and her commitment to a healthy lifestyle, Vinarao explored the topic of food safety and meal kits.

While focusing on microbial growth in food, Vinarao and Professor Wilson realized the importance of considering multiple factors such as temperature control, packaging integrity, and appropriate methods and materials. Professor Wilson provided invaluable guidance and support throughout the project, making her an exceptional mentor in Vinarao's eyes.

As a result of her research, Vinarao was selected as the winner of the 2023 CLEF Student Research Competition. She will be nationally recognized at the upcoming 2023 Joint Annual Meeting during the Awards Ceremony.

Dr. Barbara Kraj, program chair for the medical laboratory sciences program at ODU, expressed her excitement for Vinarao's achievement, highlighting that it is the first time an ODU student has received the CLEF award. Dr. Kraj extended her congratulations to Vinarao and thanked the Dean's office, as well as the School Medical Diagnostics and Translational Sciences, for their support in facilitating her attendance at the national meeting.

Reflecting on her journey, Vinarao shared her initial curiosity about the project. "Ms. Wilson mentioned some extra credit topics we could work on and so I went to Ms. Wilson and told her I was curious with one of the topics," Vinarao explained. She acknowledged the contributions of Mr. Gordon Ward, the lab manager, and Dr. Kraj, the program director, in supporting her research endeavor.

The 2023 Joint Annual Meeting, organized by the ASCLS, will provide an opportunity for laboratory professionals, educators, and leaders to engage in discussions on the latest advancements in clinical laboratory science. Amy Vinarao's recognition showcases the exceptional quality of education and research opportunities available at ODU.

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