Photo of Jimena Hernandez-Martinez

GHC student wins first-place award at national undergraduate research conference

Jimena Hernandez-Martinez, a nursing student at Georgia Highlands College (GHC), recently won a first-place award for Graduate and Undergraduate Research at the 2022 National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Professional Development Conference, held in Indianapolis, Ind.

Jimena participated in the Mentored Student Research poster competition, presenting research she and classmate Jolene Hayden completed in their Microbiology class at GHC, taught by Assistant Professor of Biology Banhi Nandi.

Titled “Antibacterial Effect of Allium Sativum (Garlic) Extract Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA),” the presentation won Jimena a cash prize of $200.

“Jolene and I, as well as our professor, chose this topic because we wanted to see if MRSA would be affected by garlic,” Jimena said. “MRSA is a bacterium that we both took interest in outside of class.”

While Jimena was excited to win the award, she unfortunately did not get to receive it in person.

“My mentor, professor Nandi, and I could not stay for the closing ceremony due to the unexpected snow that fell the weekend of our presentation,” Jimena said. “We received the news that we had won first place and I could not believe it.”

Jimena said she decided to enter the competition because she wanted feedback from her peers, with the goal of extending and improving the project. She said the experience provided her with new connections and friends, as well as new perspectives on her research and academic goals.

“It opened me up to wonder and think deeper on other projects relating to MRSA,” Jimena said. “I want to minor in microbiology and seek out more opportunities like this.”

She credits Nandi for providing the tools and guidance needed to make the project and presentation a success.

“GHC has impacted my life with many great professors, and it has given me the opportunity to meet professor Nandi,” Jimena said. “Without her I don’t think this project would have been possible. She worked as hard as I did and would even come in earlier and stay later in order for us to get things done.”

Jimena plans to graduate in 2025 and hopes to work in a hospital or laboratory.