Conference to showcase biology students’ research

Christine Filer

UA undergraduate students will present their research at the 20th annual Undergraduate Biology Research Program Conference on Saturday.

About one hundred posters displaying undergraduate research will be presented, said Carol Bender, director of UBRP and related programs. The event is open to the public and will be held on the main floor of the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“”I think (the conference) will bring awareness to different constituencies in Arizona about the importance of undergraduate research and the value of undergraduate research,”” Bender said.

The conference will also provide an opportunity for students to talk to professionals in science, while at the same time allowing the students to display their research to their family and friends.

The conference “”definitely makes you understand your research more,”” physiology senior and UBRP ambassador Saman Nematollahi said.

“”For example, my parents are coming so I have to explain it to them – my mom is a preschool teacher,”” Nematollahi said, “”So I guess if you can break it down to those people – the non-scientific community – I think that shows that you really understand it.””

Sarah Rios, a veterinary science senior, said the conference also allows students to see what everyone else has been researching.

“”All the projects are so diverse,”” she said, recalling projects on everything from aphids to cancer.

Nematollahi also participated in the “”Bravo!”” program, which allows students to present their research internationally. He said he displayed his research in Amsterdam.

“”This past summer, I did some research in Mexico so (UBRP) definitely opens doors,”” Nematollahi said.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Jared Ragland. After participating in UBRP, Ragland went on to become the director of the Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

“”He did his ‘Bravo!’ experience in Japan and now the area of the world he deals with the most is East Asia,”” Bender said. “”Ragland was able to combine his interests into a single career, which is really exciting and important for all of us.””

Rios said she joined UBRP because she “”wanted to continue to do cancer research because my dad had been diagnosed with cancer during my junior year in high school.””

Rios, who was involved with UBRP for two years, said the conference “”gives a chance for you to present your research to your fellow UBRPers and your peers,”” and also provides an opportunity to network.

UBRP currently has about 140 students in the program, Bender said. The program started out with 19 students 20 years ago.

“”It’s incredibly rewarding,”” Bender said. “”It’s just wonderful to watch students grow and provide opportunities that can foster growth in students.””