RSU Medical Molecular Biology Senior Bryce Sanchez Receives First Place at Research Day

woman handing certificate to man

Rogers State University student Bryce Sanchez presented his biology research at the 27th annual Research Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol on March 29. His research on “The Effects of Nicotine and E-Cigarette Juice on the Development and Lifespan in Drosophila Melanogaster” won first place in the Regional, Community and Tribal College Category.

Twenty-one students representing 15 colleges and universities gathered on the State Capitol’s second-floor rotunda to showcase the outstanding research being conducted on Oklahoma’s campuses. Members of the State Legislature and Capitol guests visited students’ poster displays to learn more about the research projects, which covered important topics including ecological damage, nutrition, and cancer research.  

Sanchez, a medical molecular biology senior from Owasso, hopes to educate the public on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. 

“This research is important to me because many teenagers and young adults are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes across the United States today. Women who smoke during pregnancy affect a life other than their own. I really want people to realize just exactly what they are putting into their lungs and bodies because it really is more harmful than most of us understand,” Sanchez said.

Research Day is designed to raise awareness of the outstanding research taking place at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities and was sponsored by Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the National Science Foundation.

Sanchez’s research is part of his capstone studies in medical molecular biology. Associate Professor Dr. Jin Seo, department of biology, served as Bryce’s faculty advisor.

“I’m extremely proud that Bryce won first prize at Research Day at the Capitol. For his capstone research, he wanted to test the effects of e-cigarette exposure on prenatal life,” Dr. Seo said. “He decided to use fruit flies as a model system to test his hypothesis. Bryce completed his capstone research last semester, but he continued to work on the project to expand his previous findings this semester.” 

After collecting the data, he determined that the flies exposed to e-cigarette significantly reduced egg production; further, their progenies decreased energy storage and caused premature death. 

“With the lack of research, some health professionals and researchers are suggesting that tobacco itself contains many of the harmful chemicals whereas nicotine alone is relatively harmless. This is causing women to believe it is safe to use nicotine gum, nicotine patches and e-cigarettes as cessation tools while pregnant. We hypothesized the opposite of all these claims and stated ourselves that we believed there would be a decrease of both development and lifespan of the offspring (using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism), which we concluded was correct,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez will graduate on May 7 Summa Cum Laude. He was part of RSU’s honors program and president’s leadership class, both academic scholarships provide an atmosphere for student scholars to challenge themselves academically and maximize their college experience.