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Johnson C. Smith University’s Shawana Wilson Selected for International Complexity Science Summer School at Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico

Charlotte, NC (June 1, 2012) - Shawana A. Wilson, a biology major at Johnson C. Smith University, is  one of  fifty-seven leading international  student researchers in computational modeling and applied research, selected for the 2012 Complexity Science Summer  at Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico. 

Based upon her Smith Institute pilot project  titled: Targeting Sickled Hemoglobin: Quantitative Stability-Flexibility Relationships (QFSR) in Sickled and Normal Hemoglobin,  Shawana was accepted into the internationally ranked and highly selective Santa Fe Institute Complexity Science Summer School where she will collaborate with fellow applied research students from around the globe, becoming proficient on topics ranging from agent-based modeling to genotype-phenotype mapping, and phase transitions, incorporating mathematical modeling and empirical case studies. 

Shawana’s Smith Institute investigation on biological modeling of Sickle Cell disease is the centerpiece of a research collaborative between UNC Charlotte, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and Johnson C. Smith University.   

According to the Sickle Cell Disease Association, 100,000 people in the United States live with sickle cell disease. The inherited blood disorder affects one in 500 African Americans and the trait appears in 1 in 12 African Americans. There is currently no universal cure.

Wilson’s Smith Institute project used computational modeling and simulation to explore and construct important possibilities for sickle cell analysis and treatment. Mentored by Dr. Timothy Champion, Johnson C. Smith University chair of Natural Science and Mathematics, Wilson contributed numerous presentations on computational modeling and simulation in biological molecules for VIP visitors at the university’s Multidisciplinary Applied Computational Modeling and Simulation Lab (MACMAS). These visitors included the Congressional Black Caucus and NASA’s exploratory applied research conference committee. Wilson’s emphasis is on putting a human face and touch on the most cutting edge scientific practice, and encouraging exploration of the “profound issues of human existence.”

Wilson is the founding vice president of the JCSU chapter of the American Medical Students’ Association, which works to prepare students to incorporate computational modeling and simulation into diagnosis and treatment across clinical professions. She is also a member of Kappa Mu Epsilon, Mathematics Honor Society and the Lab Assistant for Smith Institute’s Multidisciplinary Applied Computation Modeling and Simulations (MACMAS) Lab.  The  MACMAS Lab was designed with the assistance of   Dr. Hang Chen, Chair of the JCSU Department of computer Science and Engineering,  Santa Fe Institute Vice President Ginger Richardson and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Cravotta, Inc.)

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is the premier independent urban liberal arts university located in the heart of Charlotte, N.C. It offers a progressive liberal arts curriculum with 26 fields of study to more than 1,600 students. The University prepares students for success through excellent academic programs with a focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility.          

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