Research Students Gain Insights and Experience at National Science Conference

Seven undergraduate and graduate science students from California State University, Dominguez Hills gained valuable experience participating along with 1,700 undergraduate students, and 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists from more than 350 colleges and universities nationwide at the 2012 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held at the San Jose Convention Center in November.

Destinie Thompson participates for a second time at an ABRCMS Conference.

The four-day professional conference, now in its 12th year, is the largest for biomedical and behavioral sciences, attracting more than 3,000 participants—including students, faculty and administrators—and is aimed at encouraging underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Networking with other minority students was a motivating experience for biology major Brittany Tillman and psychology major Destinie Thompson, both second-time ABRCMS attendees and senior Minority Biomedical Research Support Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) scholars.

“There is nothing more uplifting than being surrounded by peers who are successful and are driven by their goals,” Thompson said. “I met numerous women, who were not only from my field of psychology, but also African American, who inspired me to keep fighting forward.”

Thompson added that being able to meet with professionals in her field provided insights that she can use to fulfill her goal of giving back to her community. She presented “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Chronic Pelvic Pain: Determining the Relationship between Chronic Pelvic Pain, Substance Abuse, and Abuse Experiences,” a poster based on work mentored by Astrid Reina-Patton of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Brittany Tillman is a return poster presenter at an ABRCMS Conference.

A return poster presenter, Tillman honed her skills with “FAT10 Knockout Mice Livers Fail to Develop Mallory-Denk Bodies in the DDC Mouse Model,” based on research by Samuel W. French of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

“This was my second time attending and presenting [a poster] at ABRCMS and every time I have been inspired by the array of minority students making a bold step forward in advancing the STEM fields. I feel lucky to have been among such fantastic and intellectual students,” she said.

Ivan Ramirez discusses his poster at a national science conference for research students in November.

Also gauging the level of his work amongst peers was Ivan Ramirez, a senior majoring in biochemistry and an Alliance Minority Participation scholar.

“I enjoyed all the networking opportunities and preparation for graduate school. I left the conference feeling enlightened and more confident in myself,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez indeed fared well among his peers. He received an award for his poster presentation on “Identifying Protein Potential Binding Sites on BRCA1 from Bioinformatic Approaches and Verified by Peptide Array.” His research was mentored by A. Keith Dunker of the Indiana School of Medicines.

Ashley Martin presents a poster at the ABRCMS conference.

MBRS RISE scholar, and biochemistry senior Ashley Martin presented “Fructose Increases Glucose Utilization for 3t3-l1 Preadipoctye Cells,” a poster based on research of Paul Lee of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Along with their fellow Toros, Alisha Coffey, a senior majoring in biochemistry and a Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-USTAR) scholar, and biology graduate students Victor Canela and Anthony Dioquino gained insights into their field by attending lectures, presentations, professional development sessions and networking opportunities at the conference.

To help facilitate student success, ABRCMS also provided resources for faculty mentors, such as CSU Dominguez Hills professor of chemistry and biochemistry Leonardo Martinez and emeritus professor of biology Laura Robles, who accompanied students from the university to the conference.

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