ECU student, professor receive honors for paper

Natalie Bell and Dr. Jinkun Lee, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Technology, co-authored a paper that received a third-place award at the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers national conference. (Submitted photos)

An East Carolina University student and a professor in the Department of Engineering received honors at the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Natalie Bell, a senior undergraduate student, took third place in the Health Systems Best Track Paper Award for her paper called “Insulin-glucose model for a model-based insulin pump controller.” Dr. Jinkun Lee, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Technology with a concentration in Industrial and Systems Engineering, co-authored the paper.

“Placing third was a really great feeling,” Bell said. “I am a senior undergraduate and was competing against Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows, so being a finalist was truly humbling.”

Bell said the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a continuous insulin glucose monitoring pump prompted the paper. For those with diabetes, the device checks glucose readings in real time or over a period of time, with the pump delivering insulin as needed. The device reduces the need for daily insulin injections. However, Bell said insulin resistance has been increasing in the past year because of slight overdoses from the pump.

Bell credited Lee for his support and guidance.

“I could not have done this work without him or have grown as much as I have this past year as a researcher,” she said.

Bell said the work on the project would continue in the fall.

Meanwhile this summer, Bell is interning with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the National Institute of Health in Research Triangle Park, where her projects focus on obesity and toxicity in neural progenitor cell lines.

Bell is also helping to write a manuscript about Zileuton drug liver toxicity in mice.

“The relevance of that work is the drug inhibited certain pathways that were associated with some cancers, so understanding this toxicity is essential in developing better understanding of the drug,” Bell said.

At the NTP, Bell is also part of the molecular toxicology and genomics group and was recently appointed a co-editor and chief of the monthly newsletter.

At ECU, she is receiving additional mentorship from Dr. Anthony Kennedy in the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Jean-Luc Scemama in the Department of Biology, and has been working with graduate student Josie Hickman.

Bell, originally from Houston whose parents now live in Cary, plans to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering with a research focus on toxicology.

Founded in 1948, the IISE is the world’s largest professional society dedicated to the support of the industrial engineering profession and individuals involved with improving quality and productivity, according to its website. It hosts a national flagship industrial engineering conference each year.

– By Ken Buday, University Communications