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Dr. Lashitew Gedamu and PhD student Trinh-Don Nguyen discuss a project.
Adrienne Shumlich/the Gauntlet

Bio-Sci students get a taste for grad school

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Biology undergraduate students presented at the Biological Sciences Student Symposium April 3-5, where they displayed research they collected and recorded over the past year.

Over the three days, 67 students presented research ranging from coffee consumption and prevention of obesity in rats to aging of host defense mechanisms in pond snails. Each student gave a 30 minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes for questions from the audience. Each presentation slot had an acting chair from the department of biological sciences to facilitate the presentations.

"We've been doing these project courses for probably 30 years or more but we thought to really celebrate what the students had done, to make them feel apart of a community within the department, to actually have their research become public brings it to some fruition," said acting head of biological sciences Anthony Russell.

According to Russell, the symposium gives undergraduates the opportunity to explore the way scientists experience it and prepare them for post graduation.

Though most students will choose not to pursue graduate school, they are still given a taste of how the scientific community operates and what they might face if they choose to further their education.

"This shift from knowledge consumer to knowledge producer is a major transition and so these courses for these senior students is part of that journey," said Russell. "They're actually learning, 'well what have I learned and how can I use that to find this answer'," said Russell.

The students enrolled in cellular, molecular and microbial biology 528 and 530 were guided through the process of choosing a topic of interest, applying research skills gained throughout their undergraduate degree and working toward a conclusion. The presentations were grouped together with ones of similar topics in order to promote related discussion.

Fouth-year zoology student and participant Kathryn Lipsett said the symposium is an opportunity and advantage for students.

"It's good to get the experience of giving a scientific presentation and the fact that it's not necessarily in your classroom makes it a little bit more professional," said Lipsett. "You get used to presenting to people you don't know and haven't been working with and higher minds that challenge you."

There was a large turnout of participants as well as spectators. Awards were also given for various categories and a closing ceremony concluded the symposium.

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