Research event lets undergrads, grad students network

by Misty Pocwierz-Gaines, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center | May 10, 2018

Image with caption: Amar Singh, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UNMC, address the attendees at the event.

Amar Singh, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UNMC, address the attendees at the event.

On April 28, in conjunction with the Nebraska Science Festival, the UNMC Office of Recruitment and Student Engagement hosted the first undergraduate and graduate research poster presentation in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

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Constance Mietus, left, receives her award from Pamela Carmines, Ph.D.
Thirty-eight undergraduates attended the event from eight college campuses across Nebraska, presenting research on a wide range of topics.

In addition to allowing undergraduates to highlight their research, the event introduced them to opportunities available at UNMC. A panel discussion with four graduate students -- Brady Sillman (neuroscience), Opeoluwa "Ope" Oyewole (pathology), Tyler Kambis (genetics) and Krysten Vance (cancer research) -- gave the undergraduates insight into the life of a graduate student at UNMC.

Another panel discussion, hosted by Bio Nebraska and its executive director, Phil Kozera, included Karin Gilgallon of Zoetis, Niraj Patel of Neogen and UNMC graduate Chris Connelly, Ph.D., of Streck. The panelists fielded questions from undergraduates and graduates about their careers and opportunities within their respective companies. The panelists also discussed the array of differences between working in industry and working in academia.

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Alex Wiesman, left, receives his award from Pamela Carmines, Ph.D.
The afternoon session featured a poster presentation. Forty graduate students from across the spectrum of graduate studies presented posters and discussed their research with undergraduates.

"It was wonderful to witness these students' enthusiasm for science," said Pamela Carmines, Ph.D., executive associate dean of graduate studies. "The research presented was impressive and the students were well spoken and knowledgeable in their areas of study.

"I think the event was enlightening for some of the undergraduates who became more aware of the scope of opportunities available to them because they completed a research project -- regardless of the nature of the project," Dr. Carmines said. "Experience with the process of research, such as applying the scientific method and developing creative and critical thinking skills, is the key takeaway from undergraduate research."

Prizes were awarded to graduate students in the categories of clinically relevant and non-clinically relevant research. The top prize in each category was $500 and a $1,500 travel award, donated by Bio Nebraska.

The winners were in the non-clinically relevant category:

  • First: Constance Mietus, M.D./Ph.D. program
  • Second: Daniel Mitteer, Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Third: Jaime Larson, UNMC College of Public Health

The winners in the clinically relevant category were:

  • First: Alex Wiesman, neuroscience
  • Second: Shashank Shrishrimal, biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Third: Justin Grassmeyer, M.D./Ph.D. and pharmacology and experimental neuroscience

In the undergraduate competition, awardees were:

  • First: Connor Diaz, Creighton University, for a poster "Hydrogel template for guided tissue engineering of shoulder tendon." (Diaz won a cash prize and admission into the Summer Undergraduate Research Program.)
  • Second: Quinn Nelson, University of Nebraska at Omaha, for a poster titled "Probing RNA Structure in the 5' Untranslated Region of Coxsackievirus B3 Genomic RNA."
  • Third: Del De Souza, UNO, for a poster titled "Effects of atrazine and a simulated herbicide mixture on two North American sentinel species, the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) and the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)."