The Office of Student Research is proud to feature Cassandra Poole in this week’s “Scholar Story”.

Cassandra Poole is a senior at Longwood University. She is currently completing her second bachelor’s degree in Biology after earning her first bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. Cassandra is completing a Longwood Senior Thesis project with her faculty mentor, Dr. Amorette Barber. Her research investigates how BPA substitute compounds affect T cell differentiation and function. BPA is a compound that acts like estrogen in the body and it can alter the functions of many cell types including cells of the immune system. When the negative effects of BPA were discovered, BPA substitutes were developed. However, many of these substitutes are structurally similar to BPA and not a lot of research has been done on whether that allows them to act like BPA in the body. Therefore, Cassandra is working with a subset of these BPA substitutes to see if they do in fact alter T cell activity in a way that is similar to BPA and to estrogen.  Cassandra started this project because she wanted to gain experience in conducting independent research before applying to graduate school for biomedical research.

Cassandra shared that participating in research has given her more confidence in her ability to engage in the entire research process and to contribute to the scientific community in a way that is meaningful. This experience has left her feeling more prepared and ready to move onto graduate school.

Her favorite part of doing research was “learning how to perform new lab procedures and techniques that I had not previously seen in my classes. I love to be hands-on in the lab, conducting experiments. So much micropipetting!”

Participating in independent research has taught Cassandra many valuable skills including developing the ability to “learn and apply new techniques, to analyze data and draw conclusions, and to tackle obstacles without giving up or becoming discouraged. Research requires effort, engagement, and resilience, and this experience has certainly helped me to develop those important qualities.”

Cassandra will present her research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Wisconsin in April.

Cassandra also published another research project that she completed during her first year at Longwood in Incite, Longwood’s journal of undergraduate scholarship.  Her article titled “Longwood University’s campus: Human-cultivated Soil has Higher Microbial Diversity than Soil Collected from Wild Sites” received first place for the Incite Best Student Publication award.

After graduation, Cassandra will earn her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at Virginia Tech. Ultimately, she hopes to end up in a faculty position at a research university, so that she can combine her love of research with her love of teaching, and mentor the next generation of scientists.

Congratulations to Cassandra on her successful research!

If you would like to have your research featured in a “Scholar Story”, or if you would like to learn more about getting involved in research at Longwood University, please visit Longwood’s Office of Student Research website

or contact Amorette Barber, Director of the Office of Student Research ( or