Undergraduate earns second in post-doctoral poster competition

Mitchell Szymczak
Mitchell Szymczak

A senior microbiology major earned second place in post-doctoral poster competition at the Rocky Mountain Virology Club meeting last month.

Mitchell Szymczak of Colorado Springs presented “Further Characterization of Rio Grande Virus and Potential for Serological Cross Reactivity with other Phleboviruses” at the conference at Colorado State University’s Pingree Park Campus west of Fort Collins.

Szymczak completed a project with Professor Myrna Miller in the Department of Veterinary Sciences last spring and was looking for a new project. Miller had mentioned the Rio Grande virus.

“With the identification of new phleboviruses that cause human disease in the United States and Asia, we wanted to see if Rio Grande virus (a non-human virus) could interact with any serological assays that may test for these other phleboviruses such as Heartland virus,” says Szymczak. “If there is serological cross reaction between Rio Grande virus and other phleboviruses, then it could cause a false positive for serological tests searching for these viruses that infect humans. We didn’t test Heartland virus itself against Rio Grande virus, but we tested it against many others.”

The conference theme was “Virology with an Altitude.”