Skip to main content

Thurston earns INBRE recognition

October 31, 2019
Caly Thurston

College of Idaho junior Caly Thurston didn’t go into the conference-ending dinner in Moscow expecting to leave with an award.

But she did.

“I was pretty surprised,” said Thurston, who is majoring in biomedical sciences. “I knew that people at the conference were talking about my poster, but I didn’t go in (to the dinner) expecting to win. It was really exciting.”

The award was second place – out of over 100 competitors – in the student-choice category at the annual, state-wide INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) conference over the summer. Thurston presented research on the effects of chemotherapy on tardigrades, commonly referred to “water bears.” There are six awards given, three in the student-choice category and three in the faculty-choice category. Flo Wavriel '19 earned an award the year before as the College continues to perform strongly at the conference, which includes students from eleven institutions from Idaho.

Thurston’s research centered on tardigrades because of their known toughness. The thought is, if researchers can unlock what makes tardigrades so resilient, perhaps those characteristics can be used to help people undergoing chemotherapy for cancers like glioblastoma. Her research was conducted over the summer under the tutelage of biology professor Luke Daniels as part of the INBRE program.

“What has impressed me about Caly is her original thinking and I think that’s one of the things that sets her apart,” Daniels said. “There was a lot of originality and creativity in this project and it was really something she came up with. It was something that she got excited about taking on.”

Thurston was part of a nine-person group representing the College at the INBRE conference. Daniels was joined by Tom Pirtle and Mark Gunderson from the biology department as faculty. Thurston was joined by fellow students Shanaya Fox, Cameron Coyle, Lindy Westendorf, Colt Merges, and Kathryn Craig as INBRE fellows. Each of the six students presented at the conference after the ten-week summer research period.

A tenth member of the YoteFam, alum Kate Arbon ‘09, also attended the conference. Dr. Arbon was invited to the conference to provide the Keynote Inspirational Address to all of the people in attendance. She graduated magna cum laude from the College with biology honors a decade ago before completing her medical degree at the University of Washington. She is now a practicing pediatrician in Bellevue, WA.

Idaho INBRE-4 Program is funded under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM103408. The total anticipated amount of federal funds for the project is $17,088,792, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The College of Idaho has a 128-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit