ETSU students dazzle in research competition

Published 3:38 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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Dravet Syndrome is a rare but deeply serious form of epilepsy that begins in a child’s first year of life.
Those who suffer from it are at an especially high risk of developing a complication of epilepsy disorders known as SUDEP, short for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.
An East Tennessee State University graduate student is part of the important research aimed at better understanding this devastating illness.
For her efforts, Jessa Leigh Aldridge won first place in ETSU’s Fall 2023 3MT® Competition, an effort that helps graduate students hone their academic, presentation and communication skills.
The gist: Students must distill projects into an engaging three-minute presentation that is designed for a general audience using just one slide.
“We have graduate students doing incredible work here at ETSU,” said Emily Redd, publications and special projects coordinator with the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. “The 3MT® Competition is a great way to help these scholars-in-training to improve their research, as well as practice their ‘elevator pitch,’ a concise, compelling summary of their research and its value.”
Aldridge, a Biomedical Sciences student, hopes her work will eventually lead to new therapies to prevent SUDEP.
“The exact mechanisms that lead to SUDEP remain to be fully elucidated, but researchers believe cardiac arrhythmias play a significant role,” said Aldridge. “I hope to determine novel mechanisms in the heart that may predispose to arrhythmias and SUDEP in Dravet Syndrome.”
Speech-language pathology (SLP) student Megan Gibson earned second place for her presentation on the lack of awareness among speech language pathologists when it comes to the gut-brain axis.
“I find this to be an important pursuit because, through my research, I have discovered there are little to no articles written about the gut-brain axis for the SLP. Most articles on the gut-brain axis are written for audiences such as registered dietitians, physicians, pharmacists and neuroscientists,” she said.
Prizing hands-on experiences, students learning to make a real-world impact is at the heart of ETSU’s approach to education.

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