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More than 130 faculty, graduate and undergraduate students packed Clayton Hall in late January for the inaugural Biological Sciences Research Day. The special event was an opportunity to share and learn about the breadth of the research in the department and to make connections.
“This is our ecosystem," said Justin Parreno, assistant professor and one of the event's organizers. “We have PIs here, we have graduate students, we have staff, we have undergrads all conversing. This will promote our community."
The event marked the first time that students from the department's graduate program were all together. As the program is interdisciplinary, students work across campus in labs in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as in other biology-related departments at UD. Some also work off campus in labs at Nemours Children's Hospital and Christiana Hospital.
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The day featured talks and presentations by graduate students and faculty, along with poster sessions. Topics ranged from fertilization mechanisms to brain cancer to immunotherapy to salivary gland engineering.
The event gave the students valuable experience in presenting their work to others outside their field and to get new ideas from unexpected sources for their research.
“They present something, and someone says, 'Well what about that,' and they go and do another experiment," said Velia Fowler, professor and department chair. “This is the scientific process. You make an observation, you tell someone about it, and you get feedback."
Undergraduate students were also invited to attend and to present posters. Parreno, who is also director of undergraduate research, said the annual event can be a great way to connect students early in their careers who are unaware of research opportunities to faculty looking to recruit undergraduate researchers to their labs.
“We hope to target sophomores and freshmen," Parreno said. “It's an investment. If we get them early on, they'll be in a lab for two or three years. In that time they can really make major contributions to research projects."
The day ended with an awards ceremony and a special appearance by mascot YoUDee.
Article by CAS Communication Staff