Legacy of Original Research
Dickinson’s science majors collect data from sites as close as Carlisle’s LeTort Creek and as distant as the southern hemisphere. On Feb. 25, 32 student-scientists presented their findings during the annual Biology Student Research Symposium.
Featuring a two-hour poster session and three oral presentations, the symposium attracted a large audience of faculty members and students and reflected a wide variety of scholarly interests.
The posters offered new information on 22 subjects, including ecosystem preservation, virus-transmitting aphids, mouse neurons, turtle-hatchling predators, coral reefs and a host of diseases and conditions. “Every poster seemed to have a variety of people crowded around it, chattering, asking questions and talking about science,” said Scott Boback, assistant professor of biology. [Story continues below.]
Speaking before a large audience of faculty, administrators and students, Kim Wilson '11 and Caroline Haislip '11 kicked off the oral presentations with a welcome address in Dana Hall's lecture room. Katelyn McCann '11 next described the muscular performance of boa constrictors—and the cardiovascular response of rats—while the snakes constricted their prey. Seniors Sarah Brnich, a biochemistry & molecular biology major, and Julia Filiberti, a mathematics major, then explained how they used mathematical and computational techniques to analyze microarray data. Bryan Conner ’11 and Michael Grant ’11 closed the oral presentations with an explanation of how they used cluster analysis to examine the genetic network in a human-leukemia cell line.
Conner said he enjoyed stepping out of the lab and taking stock of his work, and he appreciated the chance to brush up on his public-speaking skills. Brnich enjoyed the experience, as well. “We had a great turnout and an audience that was ready to ask some thoughtful questions,” she said.
Passing the baton
That level of engagement is vital, because the students who attended the symposium will continue the graduating seniors’ research. Brnich said that it's good to know that her work will continue. “If I can inspire an interest in others and get them excited about the work we are doing in our lab, then [this was] a successful presentation,” she explained.
“There are valuable opportunities to do research at Dickinson,” Conner added. “I hoped to show the audience that opportunities like this are easy to find here.”
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77