Research Symposium Highlights Undergraduate Work

Undergraduate students explain their research during poster presentations at the symposium to students and faculty members. Grover P. Miller, Ph.D. (pictured far left) is one of the event's co-organizers.

University of Central Arkansas juinor Tatsiana Savenka (right) presented her summer research conducted during her summer research fellowship at UAMS.

Aug. 4, 2014 | For many college students, summer means taking a break from academic work. But for some undergraduate students in central Arkansas, summer means they get a chance to further their academic work and learn about careers in science through hands-on research.

On July 23, undergraduates had the chance to showcase their research efforts with 74 different titles for research projects at the third annual Central Arkansas Undergraduate Summer Research Symposium held on the UAMS campus at the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building. Almost 200 undergraduates, faculty mentors, and administrators attended.

The all-day symposium allowed undergraduate students from more than 20 universities to present their research. Students were from universities around the United States, but all participated in research projects at colleges, universities and institutions across Central Arkansas for the summer.

“Undergraduate research gives students a unique opportunity to experience the excitement of scientific discovery,” said Kevin D. Raney, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the UAMS College of Medicine. “The Central Arkansas Undergraduate Summer Research Symposium provides these students a forum to share their research experience with their colleagues.”

The event featured short talks and posters covering a variety of disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. Raney along with Grover P. Miller, Ph.D., associate professor in biochemistry and molecular biology, serve as the event’s co-organizers.

“This event is unique compared to other events,” Miller said. “Summer is the only time these students do research. It’s great to showcase the accomplishments these students can make in eight to 10 weeks.”

University of Central Arkansas junior Tatsiana Savenka participated in the UAMS Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. “I had little research experience. I wanted to participate in something more intense and longer, because I was interested in the field of research,” Savenka said. “It’s been a great program with hands-on experience. This is my first time to present my research, and that’s pretty exciting too.”

“I think it’s a testament to what can be achieved in Arkansas,” Miller said. “During the summer, these students participate in projects that are small, but significant advances to solving big problems. As these students tackle these challenges, they become the problem solvers of tomorrow. That’s why investments through grants and scholarships are essential to ensuring our society moves forward and not backward through better science. This event is a showcase for what our students can achieve now.”

The symposium also makes students aware of future opportunities at UAMS in research and education. “Having the symposium on campus is a chance to show off our outstanding facilities for research and teaching, which helps to recruit highly motivated students to UAMS,” Raney said.

It allows students the chance to talk with UAMS professors and other students to give them experience orally presenting their research. The event has also helped build better relationships with undergraduate faculty members across the state as evidenced by the co-authors for the presentations among the titles of presentations.

The event was hosted by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and UAMS Graduate School along with the Arkansas IDeA Network of the Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program and supported by grant funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

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