Senator Bennett examines the coin presented by NFB of Utah President Ron Gardner and Sachin Pavithran, Utah's NFB legislative coordinator and an employee of the CPD.

Braille coin highlights the need for literacy

Earlier this month, Senator Bob Bennett received a coin honoring Louis Braille from two Utah representatives of the National Federation of the Blind. One of the presenters was Sachin Pavithran, Utah's NFB legislative coordinator and also an assistive technology specialist at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

In an interview, Pavithran reflected on the story behind the coin and the "Braille Readers are Leaders" literacy campaign that it will help fund. Louis Braille invented the tactile reading and writing system that bears his name. Unfortunately, many people with visual disabilities are unable to use that system. whole story

CPD by the numbers

During the past academic year, CPD staff members taught 30 courses in 8 USU departments , generating 1,518 credits.

Biomedical Lab students Meredith Halling, Andrew Vanderwerf and Rachel Simmons.

Students go to smart summer jobs

Four students who have learned and worked in the Center for Persons with Disabilities' Biomedical Lab will go on to prestigious summer jobs, thanks to the experience they have gained at the CPD.

All four students look forward to the experience the summer will bring. They credit their high-profile summer jobs to biomedical lab director Anthony R. Torres, MD. Over the school year they have worked on projects that will help researchers better understand genetic and molecular markers for autism and preterm birth.

Soon, two will be working at Johns Hopkins University, where Andrew Vanderwerf expects to study retroviruses in mammal cells. The experience should help the senior in biological engineering get into a good medical school, he said. After his graduation he leans toward doing medical research.

Meredith Halling, a junior who also majors in biological engineering, will also work at Johns Hopkins. There she expects to look for a viral connection to mental illness. "It'll be really good to get hands-on experience at such a top-notch medical center," she said.

Rachel Simmons, a biological engineering sophomore, will be working in bioinformatics at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland. Bioinformatics is a current hotbed in science that uses advanced statistics and mathematics to better understand microbiology, including the building of databases on genomes and protein sequences. "I'm excited to learn how to interpret data," she said. "Bioinformatics is all about deciphering code."

Zach Benson, a sophomore studying nutrition, will work at the Nevada School of Medicine in Las Vegas. There he expects to work with either micro RNA or the process of regressing a mature cell to a stem cell. The job will continue a path he started just this year. "This is my first year doing research," he said. "I learn something new every day."

The students will be studying with researchers who collaborate on projects being studied at the CPD's biomedical lab, Dr. Torres said. The goal is to keep students working on cutting-edge research, offer them current, real-world experience and help them move on to good medical schools and jobs once they graduate.

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