Barachel Butler Awarded Top Honors, 2021 NASA STEM Competition

Barachel Butler Awarded Top Honors, 2021 NASA STEM Competition

February 17, 2021: Trinity forensic science major Barachel Butler ’22 was selected as the first place recipient of the 2021 NASA DC Space Grant Consortium’s Student STEM Research Poster Presentation Competition. Under the guidance of Dr. Karobi Moitra, Butler used predictive modeling software to conduct her research project, “Annotation and homology modeling of the multidrug transport protein P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) of Equus caballus.” Read her abstract below.

Two Trinity NASA Scholars received honorable mention awards for their poster presentations at the same STEM Research symposium. Brandi Nelson ’21, a biology major, presented her research, “Microbiomes of the Human Hand,” working with her faculty mentor, Dr. Cynthia DeBoy. Jaylan Pratt ’20, a forensic science major, who graduated in December 2020, worked with her faculty mentor, Dr. Anette Casiano-Negroni, to conduct her research, “Effects of formaldehyde-based embalming fluids on the chemical composition of drugs.”

All three Trinity students were honored at a virtual award ceremony on February 17, 2021, and received cash prizes for their research.

“We are truly proud of the achievements of these remarkable Trinity scholars,” said Dr. Sita Ramamurti, dean of Trinity’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We also appreciate the STEM faculty who mentored these students and value our partnership with the the NASA DC Space Grant Consortium. This is another example of Trinity’s students excelling in undergraduate research.”

“I’m so honored and I’m grateful to the NASA DC Space Grant Consortium for allowing me to excel here at Trinity and help me save up for graduate school,” said Barachel Butler. “I’m proud of my research and excited to work on getting it published soon. I thank Dr. Karobi Moitra for her mentorship, and Dr. Patrice Moss, Dr. Anette Casiano-Negroni and Dr. Shizuka Hsieh for supporting me and giving me this opportunity.”

Annotation and Homology Modeling of the Multidrug Transport Protein P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) of Equus Caballus (Horse)

Research Abstract by Barachel Butler, Trinity Forensic Science Major

The horse-derived P-glycoprotein was annotated and modeled and designated as a transmembrane ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein ABCB1. Annotation of the sequence (which is not yet manually curated in NCBI) was carried out using various tools including BLAST, TMHMM, PFAM, HMM Logo etc. and supports its designation as ABCB1 or P-glycoprotein of horse. The homology model was constructed using SWISS-MODEL based on the template sequence (6c0v.1.A.) of human P-glycoprotein. Three high-identity templates were chosen for analysis. Templates 6qex.1.A. and 6c0v.1.A were used to make two models. The model based on template 6c0v.1.A. had the highest QMEAN score, Ramachandran favorability, and the most favorable Molprobity score that led to its selection as the final model. The model was evaluated using ProCheck and energy minimized using Chiron to give rise to the final model. The energy minimization resolved an unmodeled loop from Q625 to V691 and resolved other minor distortions. The clash ratio of the energy minimized model indicated that there are few clashes in the structure. The data supports the final structure as being the most accurate structure of equine P-glycoprotein that could be determined from this study.

Media Contact: Ann Pauley,, 202-884-9725


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