Diné College Student Josephine Bitsui Wins First Place in Undergrad Poster Presentation at AISES Regional Conference

Diné College Student Josephine Bitsui Wins First Place in Undergrad Poster Presentation at AISES Regional Conference

27 March 2024

TUCSON, AZ — Josephine Bitsui, a dedicated student in the Bachelor of Public Health program at Diné College, has achieved a remarkable accomplishment by winning first place in the undergraduate poster presentation category at the recent American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) regional conference. Her research on the fungal endophytic response in forest thinning in the Navajo Nation fascinated judges and attendees alike, earning her this prestigious recognition.

The AISES conference, held March 22nd to 23rd, provided a platform for indigenous students and professionals in STEM fields to showcase their work, exchange ideas, and foster collaborations. Among stiff competition, Josephine’s research stood out for its innovative approach and potential impact on environmental health.

Josephine’s study explores the complex relationship between fungal endophytes and forest ecosystems, particularly in the context of forest thinning practices in the Navajo Nation. Her research sheds light on how these microscopic organisms respond to changes in forest structure, offering valuable insights for sustainable land management strategies.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from AISES,” said Josephine Bitsui. “This achievement would not have been possible without the support of my mentors, colleagues, and the faculty at Diné College. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of environmental health issues facing indigenous communities. Also seeing how public health involves not only STEM but my native communities too”

Dr. Demetra Skaltas, Josephine’s faculty mentor, expressed pride in her accomplishment, stating, “Josephine’s dedication to her research and her commitment to addressing environmental challenges exemplify the spirit of inquiry and resilience. Her success is a testament to the ability of students we have at Diné College.”

As Josephine continues her academic journey, she remains committed to advancing scientific knowledge and advocating for environmental stewardship within indigenous communities. Her success at the AISES conference serves as an inspiration to aspiring researchers and underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.


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