Marcus Connolly/ The Paisano
The 6th annual UTSA College of Sciences Research Conference more than doubled its attendance from last year, with 765 students registered.
“Every year, it gets bigger and bigger — so big that we might have to find a larger venue for the next conference,” said Conference Chair and Associate Dean Dr. Floyd Wormley Jr.
Dr. George Perry, dean of the College of the Sciences, explained that the purpose of the conference is to “bring exceptional science to our students in a place where they can learn.”
This year’s theme was “Excellence in Basic and Translational Research.”
Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, an expert in the field of HIV research, was the keynote speaker for the event. Dr. Hildreth is the dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and a recent recipient of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award.
“It was hard getting a world-renowned speaker to attend, but people like UTSA — they like coming here,” said Cheryl Negrete, a member of the conference’s planning committee. “This is the first year in which we have had an outside keynote guest.”
Several students who attended the keynote speech talked with Hildreth following his presentation.
“I urge students to take charge of their own education and experiences,” suggested Hildreth. “It is important to get to know yourself and find something that you have a passion for; that might be your passion for the rest of your life.”
In addition to a series of oral presentations, the conference also featured work from UTSA’s budding scientists. From one end of the HUC ballroom to the other, students showed their work and answered questions asked by faculty, community members, judges and peers.
“When you judge a poster, you are looking for a real understanding of what the student is doing and what the student is saying to you. You look for a complete project,” said conference judge and biology professor Dr. Garry Sunter.
Each undergraduate and graduate student who registered to display a project submitted work in one of seven different categories. Some of the categories included Chemistry & Biochemistry, Infectious Disease and Physics & Astronomy/Nanotechnology.
“I am interested in anything physics-related,” said first-year project presenter Joana Perido. “As a junior, I wanted to get my hands on research, to have research experience and to see how it feels to get submission to a conference and present my project.” Perido’s project focused on studying the binding of protein and porphyrin.
Although Perido did not win, she still enjoyed the experience.
The winner for each of the seven research categories received an iPad mini.
The COS Research Conference was sponsored by the US Forest Service, Southern Research Station and the Office of Vice President for Research at UTSA.