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AAAS and Center for Biology and Society

ASU began taking undergraduate researchers to the AAAS annual meeting in 1998, where they worked as session aides and presented a talk on “Scientific Literacy” that led to an invited editorial in Science magazine. In 2010, Regents’ and President’s Professor Jane Maienschein, Director of the Center for Biology and Society, joined President’s Professor and Vice Dean of Barrett the Honors College Margaret Nelson to take cohorts of students to present their research at the meeting. Each year, a dozen or so students travel to some site around the US or Canada, present their posters, and participate in the activities of this vibrant meeting for science and its social connections. In 2012, ASU President Michael Crow became a AAAS Fellow, and hosted a dinner for ASU members. An annual dinner has become a favorite event at the meeting. 

 

2022 AAAS Students

The Center for Biology and Society along with Barrett, The Honors College are excited to support the 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting: Empower With Evidence. We are offering funding awards to cover e-poster submission and registration fees along with e-poster and presentation guidance.  Depending on ASU Travel guidelines, we are also hopeful to provide travel awards to attend the meeting in Philadelphia in-person.

The AAAS Poster Competition is continuing to be a virtual experience for the 2022 meeting. The new format makes the online programming and e-poster presentations available to a larger audience.  Visit https://meetings.aaas.org/e-posters/ for further information on AAAS e-posters and deadlines. Please note, AAAS e-poster abstract submissions and our funding application are both due September 28, 2021.  NOTE UPDATED DEADLINE!  

 

AAAS Funding Application

2021 AAAS Students

Due to the unique situation our international scientific community finds ourselves in, AAAS 2021 created an entirely virtual experience for the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting: Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems with a new format making the online program and e-poster presentations available to a larger audience.

The Center for Biology and Society along with Barrett, The Honors College were excited to support ASU sponsorship of the 2021 AAAS Meeting.  We offered grants to cover e-poster submission and registration fees along with e-poster and presentation guidance for 36 ASU undergrad and graduate students.

Anna Abraham

WHERE DO INSTRUCTORS COME FROM? AN ANALYSIS OF INFLUENTIAL INSTITUTIONS ON FACULTY - Anna Abraham
Abstract: Even though the benefits of active learning are well established, most instruction in undergraduate STEM continues to be predominantly lecture-based, and large-scale pedagogical change has proven hard to achieve. It is often cited that instructors teach the way they were taught. If true, where instructors received their undergraduate and graduate training can provide insight about which universities influence current teaching practices of instructors. This information has implications for where pedagogical reforms would make the greatest long-term impact. To address this question, we explore patterns in where physics faculty received their undergraduate and graduate training. We collected data on tenure-track physics faculty from 579 universities in the US, resulting in a data set of 7676 tenure-track faculty, including where they currently work, where they earned their PhD, and where they earned their undergraduate degree. These data were used to create professionalization networks that connect universities by where professors earned their degrees to where they currently work. These networks show core-periphery structures, where a smaller number of highly influential institutions are tightly connected to one another in the core of the network, but also are responsible for training a majority of the faculty who work at universities in the periphery. This suggests that schools in the core may be particularly influential for creating large-scale change, as they have the strongest professionalizing influence over the entire network. Importantly, universities outside of the US have a large impact on the professionalization network; 44.4% of tenure-track physics faculty earned at least one of their degrees outside of the US. While these faculty come from 101 different countries, universities from China, India, Russia, Germany, England, and Canada are responsible for granting undergraduate degrees to 20% of all tenure-track faculty, and PhDs to 11.8% of all faculty. The abundance of faculty who received their disciplinary training outside of the US has important implications for large-scale pedagogical change and higher education. Nationally targeted interventions to provide evidence-based pedagogical training to future faculty, like reformed graduate training, will not be sufficient to train the full candidate pool for faculty positions. Further, this raises questions about how academic preparation varies internationally, and whether differences in training result in different pedagogical choices once someone becomes faculty in the US.

Abraham Alfred

CANCER NANOMEDICINE PROJECT - Abraham Alfred
Abstract: The purpose of this project is to analyze the current state of cancer nanomedicine and its challenges. Cancer is the second most deadly illness in the United States after heart disease. Nanomedicine, the use of materials between 1 and 100 nm to for the purpose of addressing healthcare-related problems, is particularly suited for treating it since nanoparticles have properties such as high surface area-to-volume ratios and favorable drug release profiles that make them more suitable for tasks such as consistent drug delivery to tumor tissue. The questions posed are: What are the current nanomedical treatments for cancer? What are the technical, social, and legal challenges related to nanomedical treatments and how can they be overcome? To answer the questions mentioned above, information from several scientific papers on nanomedical treatments for cancer as well as from social science journals was synthesized. The results are as follows: nanomedicine has a wide range of applications that include not just cancer drug delivery but also cancer immunotherapy and detection. The main technical challenge related to nanomedical treatments is navigating through biological barriers such as the mononuclear phagocyte system, the kidney, the blood-brain barrier, and the tumor microenvironment. Current approaches to meeting this challenge include altering the size, shape, and charge of nanoparticles for easier passage. The main social and legal challenge related to nanomedical treatments is the difficulty of regulating them due to factors such as the near impossibility of detecting nanowaste. Current approaches to meeting this challenge include having the EPA require companies involved with nanotechnology to keep records detailing important facts about their materials especially regarding potential hazards they may pose to humans and the environment, making regulation easier. Overall, this project identifies enduring challenges and complexities in cancer nanomedicine. As we continue to make progress in fighting cancer, we must consistently (re)evaluate whether our proposed solutions match the persistent and emerging problems to ensure we are using our vast talent and resources efficiently and for good.

Madeline Alzamora

SUNRISE ON A NEW FUTURE: HOW THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT IS RESHAPING ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM - Madeline Alzamora
Abstract: Environmental activism has played a major role in American politics since the late 1800s, with major victories including the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 that established the National Park Service to help protect parks and monuments, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of the 1960s and 1970s, and the phase-out of ozone depleting chemicals in the 1990s. Yet mainstream activism has struggled to engage with frontline and minority communities and generate public support. This is in part because of their perpetuation of a corporate system in which frontline and minority communities are left behind and focus on traditional methods like lobbying and indirect activism. In contrast, the Sunrise Movement is a new youth-oriented environmental and social organization that has grown in size and popularity over the last five years by focusing on combating both climate change and socioeconomic inequalities through the Green New Deal. With the growing need for climate action that is fair and equitable, this project contextualizes the Sunrise Movement within past and current environmental movements as well as the current environmental and political climate in order to then investigate how Sunrise operates and their level of effectiveness in promoting the Green New Deal. I performed a literature review of both past and present (1960 to today) news articles as well as journal articles in addition to interviewing experts in the theory and practice of activism to characterize the three waves of environmentalism and lessons learned, the current political sphere and what mainstream activism is working toward, and the Sunrise Movement itself. While mainstream and localized radical activism had victories and a certain degree of effectiveness, their lack of inclusivity has failed to encourage the mass mobilization needed for long-term climate legislation. The Sunrise Movement distinguishes itself through disruptive activism and direct engagement. It is disruptive by challenging the status quo of profit over people, a two-party system where both groups are moving toward the right, and the whiteness and liberal locations of the mainstream environmental movement. Its activism is direct by working with partners across the environmental, social, and labor sphere and employing actionable, hands-on tactics that encourage participation. Their work, like all activist and political organizations, has serious limitations, but Sunrise works hard to support and encourage public enthusiasm for climate and social equity.

Estefania Arellano

GET EXCITED!: USING ANIME TO RETHINK ADOLESCENT SCIENCE EDUCATION - Estefania Arellano
FINALIST: SCIENCE IN SOCIETY: UNDERGRADUATE THIRD PLACE

Abstract: Pedagogical researchers have explored pop culture media in educational settings in the past. However, pop culture media is always evolving, and pop culture exists in a very specific context in the lives of young people. Teachers should be aware that students have already formed their own cultural activities and work with them, rather than neglect them. Anime has remained largely unexplored in this context despite its popularity. Its animation style and storyline may provide exciting moments that are memorable to young adults. This study examines the potential of anime, a style of Japanese animation, in educating through a visual medium. Recent anime have successfully incorporated science into their storytelling. The 2017 anime, Dr. Stone, follows a high schooler and his friends as they attempt to use science to restore human society after 3,700 years of global petrification. Through qualitative analysis and coding of select episodes of Dr. Stone, this study examines the ways in which scientific concepts in engineering, chemistry and geology are taught. It also examines the significance of science and representation of scientists within its storyline. Dr. Stone presents an image of science which is interesting, relevant and understandable to adolescent students through its compelling visuals and engaging story. Through its characters, it also presents a relatable and less stereotypical image of scientists. Innovative pop culture media like anime is one way of generating interest in science among adolescents and challenging preconceived notions of science. Educators may find it useful in a classroom setting. 

Danielle Brister

EVALUATING BREAST CANCER BIOMARKERS USING SENSITIVITY AT FIXED SPECIFICITY - Danielle Brister
Abstract: Early detection of diseases is essential for alleviating disease burden, increasing success rate and decreasing mortality rate, especially for breast cancer, which is the second leading cause of death from cancer in women. Over the past decade, the advancement of technology in molecular biology and image analysis suggest a large number of candidate biomarkers for early diagnostic purposes. Assessment of the diagnostic performance of these markers and validation of biomarkers for clinical utility is increasingly important, especially for particularly aggressive subtypes of breast cancer such as basal-like breast cancer (BLBC). BLBC is a rare molecular subtype, less likely to be detected through mammographic screening and characterized by an aggressive clinical outcome. Accurate identification of circulating biomarkers for this subtype is thus very important for detecting and managing it in the future. One of the most commonly used tools for illustrating the diagnostic ability of a biomarker in case-control studies is the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve. The area under the ROC curve (AUC) is used as a global measurement of biomarker performance. Partial AUC (pAUC) can also be used if a specific range of sensitivities or specificities of the biomarker is of more interest to the study; however, these two measures, AUC and pAUC, are still often quite difficult to interpret, especially for non-staticians. AUC and pAUC values can also be misleading since they equally weigh the range of clinically and clinically-irrelevant thresholds of a biomarker. We illustrate a method called sensitivity at a fixed specificity (STSP), to assess a biomarker’s performance as an alternative measure to the AUC and pAUC. We designed an R code to analyze sensitivity at 90% specificity and to sort out the top 10 markers based on AUC, pAUC and STSP for a set of BLBC biomarker data. The markers that were sorted out in the top 10 of all three categories were proteins DNAJC7 and CXCL1. Other markers that sorted in the top 10 of both AUC and STSP were proteins MLF2 and OPRL1 and a marker that sorted in the top 10 of both pAUC and STSP was protein CSNK2B. Initial results indicate that STSP is comparable to AUC and pAUC in the interpretation, validation and sorting of BLBC biomarkers. The inclusion of a graphical dot plot that clearly identifies case and control groups, an ideal threshold, and corresponding test statistics, sensitivity and specificity, provides a more user-friendly output, making STSP a more convenient and efficient way to interpret biomarker data.

Puja Chhetri

THE EFFECT OF VARIATION IN FEATURES OF EXAM QUESTIONS FROM BIOLOGY INSTRUCTORS - Puja Chhetri
FINALIST: SOCIAL SCIENCES: UNDERGRADUATE SECOND PLACE

Abstract: Student performance in instructor written high-stakes exams contributes to a significant part of the student’s grade and can have important consequences, especially in “gatekeeper” introductory STEM courses. However, instructors have much autonomy over how they write exams and what kind of questions are included on exams. The goal of this research project was to examine the effect of variation in features of Introductory biology exam questions and examine the relationship between features of exam questions and their difficulty. To assess this variation in one introductory biology, we collected 26 high stakes exams with a total of 987 questions (i.e. items) from three different introductory biology instructors/instructional teams and quantified various features of each exam question, including the cognitive level of the questions (Bloom’s level), length of the questions, use of negative words in multiple-choice stem (e.g. “does not”), and use of figures in the question. We used the Blooming Biology Tool and Bloom’s dichotomous key to categorize exam questions into six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. We used one-way ANOVA and chi-square tests in R to compare item features across instructors. Next, we used two-parameter IRT models using the ltm package in R to calculate item difficulty and discrimination. Then, we used linear regressions to assess the relationship between item features and difficulty. Although these were all exams from the same introductory biology courses, we found that there were statistically significant differences in Bloom’s level, length of questions, presence of visuals, and use of negative words in the stem. However, we found no statistically significant relationships between these items features and item difficulty. Lack of a relationship between item features and difficulty likely indicates that instructors are preparing students to answer the sort of questions they ask on the exams. However, the wide variation in item features observed in instructor exams could have significant implications on student learning in introductory biology courses, which could influence student preparation for upper-level biology courses. 

Kelle Dhein

CHARACTERIZING COGNITION: THE COGNITIVE MAP DEBATE IN INSECTS - Kelle Dhein
Abstract: During the latter half of the 20th century, mammalian navigation researchers established the existence of a cognitive trait in rats called the cognitive map. As scientists uncovered the neuro-cellular basis of the cognitive map in rats, insect navigation researchers began to ask whether animals like ants and honeybees might also possess a cognitive map. This poster examines an ongoing, decades long debate between two insect navigation researchers—Rüdigher Wehner and Randolf Menzel— who have become figureheads for the pro-cognitive map group and anti-cognitive map group. These competing researchers were trained in the same ethological research tradition by the same mentor at the same time, and in 1990, they agreed that ants and honeybees do not possess a cognitive map. But as the scientists continued to investigate insect navigation and develop their own prominent research programs, one scientist changed his position and began to argue that honeybees do possess a cognitive map while the second scientist continued to develop alternatives to the cognitive map. How can two scientists pursuing such similar problems within the same disciplinary context go from agreeing with each other about insect cognition to disagreeing with each other as more evidence became available? And what, if anything, can this debate teach scientists about the prospects of cognitive research converging on big picture accounts of cognitive traits that span a wide variety of taxa? In this poster, I argue that the debate does not center on whether a given process constitutes cognition or what it would take in principle for some phenomena to instantiate cognition. Rather, these scientists argue about how to characterize cognition. Are representational contents centrally processed or peripherally processed, does cognition integrate the contents or keep them distributed? I use an historical, epistemological perspective to show how the terms used to articulate these distinctions are themselves contested in nonobvious ways. Competing research groups adhere to different evidential norms when determining whether the results of behavioral experiments justify claims about the dynamics of neural representations. Thus, there is more at stake in the debate than the truth value of propositions characterizing insect cognition. What is at stake for participants of the debate are competing constellations of epistemic aims, evidential norms, preferred animal subjects, investigative practices, and theoretical assumptions that are often orthogonal rather than conflicting.

Miriam Goras

MISLOCALIZED EXPRESSION OF NPC PROTEINS NUP153, -93, AND -214 IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE - Miriam Goras
Abstract: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, neurocognitive disorder characterized by memory dysfunction. The presence of neuropathological aberrations, namely amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles, although key characteristics of this disease, have shown to be poor prognostic indicators. As such, clinical trials targeting AD neuropathology have largely been unfruitful, necessitating new research into novel mechanisms of the underlying pathways mediating cognitive decline. Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are the main conduits for molecular exchange across the nuclear envelope in eukaryotic cells. The NPC contains approximately 30 distinct nucleoporins (NUPs) which form a selective channel that supports the factor-mediated shuttling of cargo through the NPC. Mutations in nucleoporin genes have been linked to various human diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. Tau is the major component of neurofibrillary tangles in (AD), and a recent study has suggested a role in NPC deterioration and thus nuclear-cytoplasmic defects. This study however was not an extensive one and only investigated four nucleoproteins from one layer of the NPC structure. In this study, we have targeted all three major components of the NPC structure, by analyzing gene expression of representative NUPs from homogenate brain tissue and neuronal data in AD brains. Three significantly differentially expressed NUPs (NUP-214, -93, -153), representing different parts of the NPC structure (cytoplasmic filaments, inner ring structure, nuclear basket), were selected for validation by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting in postmortem human hippocampal sections. Bioinformatic analysis revealed widespread differential NUP gene expression across multiple brain regions in AD. These results were reflected in immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting results, which revealed quantity and localization changes of the selected NUPs in AD. Our findings revealed mislocalization of cytoplasmic-facing nucleoporin NUP214 in the cytoplasm in AD and nuclear localization of inner ring and nuclear basket nucleoporins NUP93 and NUP153 in hippocampal CA1 neurons. These results and this research represents one of the first attempts to categorize differential changes throughout the entire structure of the NPC in AD brains. Future studies will explore the hierarchical relationship between neuropathological hallmarks of AD and NPC aberrations to better understand the etiology of impaired nucleocytoplasmic transport in neurodegeneration. 

Alyssa Hart

ARIZONA UNIVERSITY STUDENT PERCEPTIONS TO COVID-19 AND THE CAMPUS’ MEASURES TAKEN - Alyssa Hart
FINALIST: SOCIAL SCIENCES: UNDERGRADUATE THIRD PLACE

Abstract: This project analyzes differences in how the four-year degree public universities in Arizona are handling COVID-19. Since the start of the academic year the number of positive cases in the age range of college students (20-35) has significantly increased. Universities are up against the generally held belief that college students are considered to be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus and that if they do have symptoms, they are likely to be mild. For this reason, it can be tempting for people in the age range to fail to follow safety protocols. For this project, I am looking both at what makes students feel safe and what measures might be more effective in lowering the number of cases and thus the spread of the virus. Having data to see what measures might be most effective in lowering, preventing, or stabilizing the number of cases would be really important to acknowledge in this population. Methods: I will survey and interview students from each of these universities to get an understanding of their perceptions on COVID-19, examining both their initial and current perceptions regarding the school experience, changes made, and opinions on the university’s measures. In addition, I will track how the population changes in the zip codes of each university when students are on campus to ascertain if the influx in new cases in those zip codes can be linked to the student population. The survey and interview data will allow for the collection of qualitative data about student perceptions of both COVID-19 and of their university’s approach to dealing with the problem. Analyzing the influx of cases using population data and the reported number of cases will allow me to ascertain how the virus is spreading in these populations. With this data, I will be able to acknowledge the pros and cons of each university’s COVID-19 protocols and procedures and make recommendations about which tactics were ultimately most effective in positively changing students’ perspectives about COVID-19 and in stopping the spread of the virus on university campuses. I expect to find the number of cases between each of the universities to be similar if they are taking similar measures and that the college age group will increase the zip code of the university. With my results I anticipate I can provide recommendations for the study population and stakeholders regarding effective measures taken for COVID-19 spread.

Israa Jahan

THE EVOLUTION OF LIGNOCELLULOSE DIGESTION IN TERMITE PROTIST SPECIES - Israa Jahan
Abstract: The objective of this study is to determine the evolution of the wood-eating enzymes within termite protists by creating phylogenetic trees for each of the responsible protein families. The symbiosis between termite gut protists and their termite hosts includes the lignocellulose digestion done by the protists that are required for both organisms to acquire nutrients from wood. Termite hindgut protists are the only protists known to engulf and digest wood particles. Many of these protists contain proteins from the glycosyl hydrolase families (GHF) that hydrolyze the glycosidic bonds between carbohydrates. Previous studies have investigated protist GHFs from the perspective of termite whole gut transcriptomes. Here, we investigate GHF diversity and evolution from single cell transcriptomes, which allows us to understand how the ability to eat wood originated and evolved in these protists, as well as which protists might be carrying out different aspects of wood digestion. For this study, single protist cell transcriptomes that were harvested from our lab were tested to see if the protists have any lignocellulose digestion proteins, or more generally, any GHF proteins, since this GHF encompasses many lignocellulose families as well. Phase 1 of the project involved a targeted BLAST search for 5 GHFs: GHF5, GHF7, GHF11, GHF10, and GHF45 because these are known to be highly expressed in the termite gut and are suspected lignocellulose digestion families. For phase 2, dbCAN (automated Carbohydrate-active enzyme Annotation) was used to determine which additional glycosyl hydrolase families can be found in each protist species’ transcriptome. At the conclusion of each phase, phylogenetic trees were made for each relevant GHF with protein sequences from different protists from our own internal database and larger public databases such as dbCAN and NCBI. Our preliminary results indicate that these protein families were derived from multiple non-protist species including fungi and bacteria. Protists that do not have any wood eating abilities seem to be lacking GHF5, GHF7, GHF11, GHF10, and GHF45, consistent with their inferred role in lignocellulose digestion. However, for protists that are known to be wood eating, other families such as GHF31, GHF13, and GHF3 are consistently found within their transcriptomes. These protists therefore seem to have acquired their lignocellulose digestion enzymes from other species such as the bacteria and fungi.

Collin Jugler

PLANT-MADE IMMUNOTHERAPEUTICS; A POTENTIAL TREATMENT FOR SEVERE COVID-19 - Collin Jugler
FINALIST: BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY: GRADUATE STUDENT THIRD PLACE

Abstract: The development of safe, low-cost, efficient therapeutics to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), will have a pivotal role in reducing the impact of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Observations of increased levels of proinflammatory molecules among patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 have been reported. Of these proinflammatory molecules, interleukin 6 (IL-6) is of interest in both that elevated levels of this molecule are correlated to disease severity and increased mortality in infected patients. Additionally, there already exist several approved therapeutics for other diseases that specifically target IL-6 signaling. We hypothesize that inhibiting IL-6 signaling will mitigate the severe symptoms often associated with COVID-19 caused by a prolonged, intense immune response, colloquially referred to as a “cytokine storm”. Here, we show that sarilumab, an anti-interleukin 6 receptor α (anti-IL-6Rα) antibody, can be produced in plants to high levels using Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transient expression. Western blot analysis provides evidence that the anti-IL-6Rα antibody is assembled properly. An in vitro, cell-based assay shows that the plant-produced antibody retains the expected bioactivity, as displayed by a reduction in luciferase activity. Future experiments will analyze the binding kinetics of the antibody to its cognizant receptor, as well as the antibody’s ability to block IL-6 signaling and reduce inflammation in an animal model. Plant-based manufacturing of this potentially useful biological drug is economically friendly and offers the opportunity to increase the affordability and availability of a low-cost treatment for those suffering from severe COVID-19. 

Emily A Kaelin

CONVERGENCE OF THE PRETERM INFANT GUT VIROME PRIOR TO NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS - Emily A Kaelin
FINALIST: MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH: GRADUATE STUDENT FIRST PLACE

Abstract: Development of the microbiome during early life is important for infant health and immunity. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious, often fatal disease associated with preterm birth, characterized by intestinal inflammation and necrosis. While the etiology of NEC is poorly understood, previous studies have identified bacterial dysbiosis as a potential contributor. However, little is known about the role of the virome in NEC. Furthermore, how the virome develops in preterm infants is poorly understood. We performed metagenomic next-generation sequencing to investigate longitudinal changes in the gut viromes of 9 preterm infants who developed NEC and 14 gestational age-matched control infants. We found that intra-individual gut virome variation within infants over time was significantly lower than inter-individual differences between unrelated infants, regardless of NEC status. Moreover, in infants who developed NEC, gut virome beta diversity decreased significantly in the 10 days before NEC onset. In contrast, control infant beta diversity remained constant, indicating a more stable gut virome. The NEC-associated virome alteration in case infants was driven by enrichment of Myoviridae, Siphoviridae, and Podoviridae bacteriophages in a manner distinct from control infants. In contrast to virome beta diversity, bacterial microbiome beta diversity in case infants was stable in proximity to NEC onset. These findings suggest that specific viral signatures in the gut of preterm infants coalesce in the days leading up to NEC. Our results could lead to early interventions for preterm infants at risk of developing NEC and microbiome-based interventions for NEC. 

Brenna Kayce

CORRELATION BETWEEN LARVICIDE SUSCEPTIBILITY AND QUIESCENCE IN AEDES AEGYPTI - Brenna Kayce
Abstract: Mosquitoes are estimated to kill roughly 700,000 people each year through the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Vector control via insecticides is a widely used method in order to combat the spread of mosquito populations; however, this comes at a cost. Resistance to insecticides has the potential to increase vector-borne disease rates. Aedes aegypti is an invasive mosquito species in Arizona and is a known potential vector for a variety of infectious diseases including zika, yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya. In contrast to many other mosquito species Ae. aegypti mosquito eggs can undergo quiescence, an active state of dormancy, over long periods of time. Variation in quiescent periods correlates to climatic rainfall alterations and can ultimately influence hatching and mating between multiple generations. I have studied the effect of quiescence on larvicide susceptibility. Mosquito eggs were collected from a susceptible lab strain and stored under optimal temperature and humidity conditions. After undergoing various quiescent periods (3, 7, 14, and 28 days, and 3 and 6 months), the experimental eggs as well as 7-day quiescent control eggs were hatched and reared to 3rd instar larvae. Temephos susceptibility was tested using the WHO bioassay procedure at lethal concentration (LC) 20, LC50, LC80, diagnostic dose (twice LC99), plus an untreated control. Each concentration dose was replicated four times with 20 larvae each. Mortality of the experimental group was not significantly different from the control group for each insecticide concentrations and at the various quiescent periods. These results indicate there are no significant differences in insecticide susceptibility when quiescence is 6 months or shorter. Further investigation into field mosquitoes genetic diversity, insecticide resistance profile, and environmental conditions should be considered.

Rachael King

SCIENCE AND POLICY: IMPROVING FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORY PROGRAMS IN THE US AND CANADA - Rachael King
Abstract: Fish consumption advisories are designed to communicate risks of contaminated fish consumption to consumers. Often associated with specific waterbodies, these advisories list the dangers of consuming fish of specific sizes, sex, and/or species to protect human health. Unfortunately, fish consumption advisories are ineffectively communicated, and fish tissue contaminant testing is not systematically nor comprehensively conducted. This leads not only to human health issues, but to environmental justice concerns as low-income and minority groups are most likely to use fish as a primary protein source. Methods: To identify opportunities for improving fish consumption advisories, the fish consumption advisory programs of all 50 US states and 13 Canadian provinces/territories were reviewed. Arizona and Nova Scotia were selected as case studies to reveal the deeper workings of these programs in the U.S. and Canada. The countries were compared to demonstrate how opportunities and challenges to policy correction are related in both countries. Policy is viewed as a means to improve fish consumption advisory programs because, without regional or federal requirements to monitor fish tissue for contaminants, there is no guarantee human health and environmental justice can be protected in either country. Results: Review of fish consumption advisory programs and policies in both countries revealed large variations. In the US, states are only required to monitor fish tissue for mercury under the Clean Water Act, and all other contaminant monitoring is up to state departments. In Canada, there are no federal requirements to monitor fish tissue for any contaminants. While 49/50 states and 12/13 provinces/territories have developed monitoring programs, lack of federal oversight leads to variation in frequency of monitoring, contaminants monitored, and dissemination of fish consumption advisories across both countries. This variation results in unequal protections of human health and environmental justice. Conclusions: While the US appears to have stronger fish consumption advisory programs than Canada, neither country systematically protects human health and environmental justice. Additionally, challenges to policy correction abound in both countries, including who will move forward with environmental policy change. The countries can learn from each other’s programs and policies to create stronger protections for human health and environmental justice and consult successful programs in the EU for methods to improve environmental policy.

Navneet Kumar

SMALL MOLECULE DETECTION USING CRISPR-CAS12A - Navneet Kumar
Abstract: The contamination of food and water can become threatening to health, especially for those living in the developing world. Conventional methods for molecular detection of contaminants are costly, labor intensive and time consuming. Furthermore, these methods lack both sensitivity and specificity for certain biomarkers. CRISPR enzymes, widely used for gene editing, have recently been deployed for molecular detection, and the CRISPR/Cas12a enzyme in particular, has demonstrated the capacity for specific and sensitive detection of nucleic acids. CRISPR/Cas12a enzyme, however, has not been widely used for the identification of other types of molecular species, such as those causing food and water contamination. This study focuses on designing a small molecule diagnostic using the CRISPR/Cas12a enzyme. This is done by combining strand displacement mechanisms with transcription factor proteins. When the protein binds directly to its binding site, strand displacement will be inhibited. However, if a small molecule specific to the transcription factor is bound, the protein itself will detach from the strand and allow both strand displacement and CRISPR activation to occur. CRISPR activation is associated with the splitting of an attached fluorescent probe, (also known as collateral DNA cleavage), the average emitted fluorescence of which is measured via spectroscopy. For quicker and low-cost detection, collateral DNA cleavage can also be measured on a paper-based lateral flow assay. These methods, therefore, can be used to indicate the presence of small molecules in the sample. To date, we have successfully detected the small molecules isopropyl ?-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) and anhydrotetracycline (aTc) using this strategy. In future studies, this design can be modified for rapid detection of toxic metals such as arsenic and lead, as well as anti-fungal metabolites in food and water. An efficacious small molecule detector such as this may help alleviate the uncertainty following health concerns of contaminated food and water consumption. In addition, the simple design can be further adapted for easy and convenient use at home.

Michael Marvin

EFFECTIVENESS OF FOREDUNE RESTORATION IN HIGH-ENERGY COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS - Michael Marvin
FINALIST: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY: UNDERGRADUATE SECOND PLACE

Abstract: Coastal dune areas are complex areas where wind, wave, and biotic processes intersect. Foredunes are shore-parallel features that protect infrastructure and habitats against flooding and erosion. During storm events, overwash can occur where waves run up and over foredunes, destroying them. High wind and wave activity at Eel River Estuary Preserve (EREP) in California makes it prone to overwash events. A 2004 overwash event, for example, destroyed a section of foredune at EREP. In order to help protect the fragile ecosystems in the preserve, the foredune was rebuilt manually in 2018. Here, the effectiveness of the rebuilt foredune was quantitatively assessed through on-site observations and total water level (TWL) predictions. Methods: Four repeat surveys have been completed with an uncrewed aerial system (UAS) at EREP. Photos from each survey are used to create 3D digital surface models (DSMs) of the study site. Maps of change are created by comparing the DSMs over time. Quantitative methods were used to interpret these geomorphic change detections (GCDs) in order to evaluate the efficacy of the foredune. Successful foredunes accrete sediment. The impact of wave action can be determined by calculating a TWL. If the TWL exceeds an erosional threshold (elevation where foredune begins), it becomes eroded. Though there are several methods of calculating wave runup, a generalized equation was chosen to calculate how far waves run up a beach. Summing wave runup and tidal water levels at a location provides the TWL height. Results: Between May 2018 and September 2019 the TWL did not exceed the calculated erosional threshold of 5.5 m. A max TWL of 4.56 (+/- 0.32) m occurred in Dec. 2018 and Jan. 2019. The GCD shows that the foredune is accreting sediment over time: between Oct. 2018 and May 2019, the foredune accreted 0.01 m3/m2 and between May 2019 and Sept. 2019 0.11 m2/m3 accreted. Net increases on the landward slope of the dune show that natural sediment transport processes are occurring. Even though the dune is accreting, the beach eroded -0.22 m3/m2 between May 2018 and Sept. 2019. Conclusions: A reconstructed foredune was monitored from May 2018 to Sept. 2019. The foredune accreted sediment and the TWL did not exceed 5.5 m during this timespan. However, this trend will not likely continue. The TWL from storms during the winter of 2019, after our most recent survey, will have likely topped 5.5 m. Further surveys will need to be conducted to determine whether or not the accretional trend presented here will continue.

Kenna McRae

CULTURAL HEALTH NAVIGATOR STRATEGIES TO GUIDE REFUGEE PATIENTS THROUGH COVID-19 - Kenna McRae
FINALIST: SOCIAL SCIENCES: UNDERGRADUATE FIRST PLACE

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health disparities in minority communities, although broad trends may obfuscate challenges faced by specific groups such as refugees. Community health programs improve health outcomes and increase healthcare quality and accessibility among marginalized communities. However, there is a knowledge-practice gap in how to leverage existing community-based strategies amid unprecedented emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for resettled refugee populations. Thus, our study sought to understand (1) strategies Cultural Health Navigators (CHNs) use to prevent and mitigate COVID-19 within refugee communities, and (2) how the pandemic and CHNs’ changing role has affected CHNs’ own well-being. Serial, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten CHNs who serve refugee communities in the fifth largest U.S. city about their experience providing healthcare and communicating COVID-19-related information during the pandemic. Interviews were conducted by video or phone, recorded, and transcribed. We used a thematic analysis approach to code transcripts guided by the six dimensions of wellness framework. Preliminary results (Obj. 1) found that CHN roles during the pandemic have shifted away from intimate face-to-face patient interactions and programmatic outreach towards new methods of conveying accessible, culturally relevant information and combatting COVID-19 misinformation. This occurred formally and informally through conversations with patients, translated videos about COVID-19, social media outreach, and one-on-one counseling in response to patient concerns. CHNs noted community members sought to continue learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19; however, significant structural challenges remain. Furthermore (Obj. 2), CHNs appreciated the safety of modified healthcare delivery during COVID-19 such as telemedicine appointments and screening protocols but it was difficult to limit the face-to-face patient interactions that are integral to their approach. CHNs’ professional roles during the pandemic have led to exhaustion, stress, and concern for their own physical, mental, social, and professional wellbeing as well as for that of their patients. Collectively, these preliminary results suggest that during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, community-based health programs are ready and critical resources with potential to limit marginalization of vulnerable communities. However, further effort is needed to support the well-being of these frontline health workers who are part of the communities they serve.

Casey McMahon

OPTIMIZATION OF DISTRIBUTION CENTER’S LOCATIONS - Casey McMahon
Abstract: There does not appear to be a singular variable that determines where companies choose to place their distribution centers, however there are several underlying factors that may alter companies’ decisions on what countries they develop in. There are many reasons companies choose a distribution centers’ location: infrastructure, trade barriers, and costs are often considered. Countries can alter aspects to increase the number of businesses that do business within their bounds. When a distribution center is constructed local communities benefit from corporate initiatives and funding as well as jobs and access to cheaper products. Countries often utilize taxes and regulation to positively impact the environment when introducing distribution centers to their economy. The goal is to apply weights to different factors that shape where distribution centers are located and inform decision makers on the aspects, they should alter to get the greatest return on investment. The resulting data will display which countries successfully utilize methods and pinpoint areas that have natural attraction without incentives. Several books, articles, and case studies will be examined to compile a final answer to the questions: 1) When determining the best location for distribution centers, what factors have the largest impact on business decisions? 2) What role do governments play on developing space for companies to conduct business in (how do they choose their infrastructure and customs methods and how that choice impacts trade)? 3) How can governments and the community limit outsourcing and/or bring businesses (and thus distribution centers) closer to home? Based on these questions, I anticipate that there will be two major factors that contribute to companies’ choices of location (cost and technology available). If the assumed indicators do lead to an increased number of distribution centers governments will know what incentives are most likely to incentivize companies based on their current economy and landscape.

Taya Misheva

UNCOVERING VALIDITY ISSUES WITH THE MATE USING STUDENT VOICES - Taya Misheva
Abstract: Researchers have argued that several items on the Measure of Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MATE) conflate acceptance of evolution with other constructs such as understanding of evolution, understanding of the nature of science (NOS), and understanding of the scientific consensus on evolution. This could lead to inaccurate measurement of students’ evolution acceptance and may explain over 20 years of contradictory results regarding the relationship between acceptance and understanding of evolution. Yet the potential role of these other constructs in the MATE has never before been directly tested. With this study, we examined whether students answer items on the MATE based on their understanding of evolution, NOS, and the scientific consensus on evolution rather than on the basis of their personal acceptance or rejection of evolution. To do so, we conducted one-on-one think aloud interviews with 62 undergraduate students at our institution. During the interview, the student was asked to complete the MATE survey out loud, and in the process explain why they selected the answer choices that they did. We sought to include students with varying levels of exposure to college-level evolution instruction by recruiting from upper- and lower-division Biology courses, as well as non-STEM courses. We also sought to acquire diverse perspectives by recruiting students with a variety of religious affiliations and different levels of evolution acceptance. After conducting the interviews, we qualitatively analyzed the interview recordings using a constant comparison method. We found that students’ scores on the MATE items were often incongruent with their actual acceptance of evolution. For instance, most students used their understanding of the scientific consensus on evolution to answer items about scientists’ views; some even pointed out how their own views do not align with their item responses. Furthermore, the interviews revealed that many item responses were influenced by NOS misconceptions, even when students expressed full acceptance of evolution within their item-level explanations. Understanding of evolution was also a major theme; students commonly acknowledged that they were unfamiliar with the evidence for evolution and did not know the age of the earth. Finally, one unexpected finding was that students frequently struggled to answer certain items due to ambiguous item wording. Given these findings, we recommend that researchers who seek to measure acceptance of evolution think critically about using the MATE survey in its published form.

Eryka Molino

THE CONTAMINANTS IN PHILIPPINE FISH AND THEIR EFFECTS ON INDIVIDUAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH - Eryka Molino
Abstract: The Philippines’ lower socioeconomic status and rapid urbanization exacerbate the impact of environmental crisis. The Philippines is the third most polluted country in the world, and it relies on a vast biodiversity of fish for food. This research project discovered the pollutants in the local fish throughout the country and then evaluated the associated health risk of eating the fish based on the national average consumption levels. Methods: 120 fish were studied total. 30 fish were extracted from each of the following sites: Dumaguete, Ayungun, Manjyod, and Bias. A fish extraction method was performed on each fish to identify several classes of pollutants. First, the fish was dissected, and 5 grams of meat were measured. Sodium sulfate and p-Terphenyl were added to the sample and then grinded into a powder. Hexane and acetone were added to the powder then placed into a jar. The jar was set in a rotisserie for 48 hours. Afterwards, the sample was run through a large column with sodium sulfate, silica gel, and glass wool. The sample was blown down and run through acidified silica gel, biobeads, and florasil sequentially in small clean up columns. It was blown down again and placed in GC vials for testing. Results: There were more total fish from Manjyod that showed nonzero concentrations of the different pollutants. However, fish from the Dumaguete site had the highest levels of contaminants overall by a factor of more than 1000 compared to the fish from remaining sites. These contaminants included the largest concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by a factor of more than 1000 compared to the remaining sites. Dumaguete also had the highest maximum phthalate concentration found. The average body weight of Filipino adult men, adult women, and children was compared to the national average consumption level of fish. This statistic was then used to calculate each group’s respective risk. Conclusion: The Environmental Protection Agency’s guide for fish contaminants pinpoints several health risks associated with the ingestion of these contaminants. The people who eat the fish at or above the national average consumption level may experience negative health outcomes, such as cancer and/or adverse effects on several body systems. Due to the high concentration of pollutants in Dumaguete, people who eat local fish from this site are at higher risk than the citizens who eat the fish from other sites. Future implications include informing policies on water quality treatment in Dumaguete.

Erika Nadile

CALL ON ME! SCIENCE UNDERGRADUATES’ PERCEPTIONS OF VOLUNTARILY ASKING QUESTIONS - Erika Nadile
FINALIST: SOCIAL SCIENCES: GRADUATE STUDENT FIRST PLACE

Abstract: A common way to engage students in college courses is to encourage them to ask questions in front of the whole class, yet few studies have explored student perceptions of participating in front of the whole class in large-enrollment college science courses. We conducted a two-part study to explore student perceptions of asking questions in front of the whole class in the context of large-enrollment classes. First, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 50 undergraduate students who had experienced being in large-enrollment science courses (which we defined as more than 50 students) at an R1 institution. Interviews were transcribed and two raters identified themes in the interviews using constant comparison methods. We conducted the next part of the study as part of a semester long course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in which students enrolled in the course collectively worked on this research project. Using the themes that we identified from the interviews, the students in the CURE developed a closed and open-ended survey that probed student perceptions of asking questions in front of the whole class. We surveyed 417 students at a R1 institution to understand (1) to what extent students perceive other students asking questions is helpful and why, (2) how frequently students report asking questions in large-enrollment science courses and what factors discourage them from asking questions and (3) whether demographics predict student experiences related to asking questions in class. Over 90% of students reported that they felt that it was helpful when other students asked the instructor questions in front of their large-enrollment science course. However, 47.7% of students reported never asking questions in their large-enrollment science courses, and women were 2.4x more likely than men to report never asking a question. The most frequently selected factor discouraging students from asking questions to the instructor in front of large-enrollment science courses is that students feel anxious when they ask questions (67.1%). Our findings highlight that although students rarely report asking questions because they are anxious and uncomfortable, they do perceive that they benefit from hearing other students participate in class. However, these inequities in comfort and reported participation may need to be attended to if student participation helps improve student engagement.

Danielle Pais

EFFECTS OF A VARIABLE HERBIVOROUS DIET ON URIC ACID AND CAROTENOIDS IN HOUSE FINCHES - Danielle Pais
Abstract: Links between nutrition and health are widely studied in humans, but we have a poor understanding of the relationships between variable diet type and health state in wild animal populations. To address this gap, we studied house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) - a popular avian model for studying sexual selection and nutrition - in captivity to examine the effects of variable seed and fruit diets on the circulation of antioxidants (carotenoids and uric acid). Dietary carotenoids play a multifaceted role as antioxidants in both human nutrition and as colorants for avian species, while uric acid works as an endogenous antioxidant. We expected the consumption of a fruit-rich diet to elevate levels. Using high-performance liquid chromatography and preliminary plasma uric acid testing, we found that dietary xanthophylls (lutein and zeaxanthin) were elevated when finches were fed a safflower-seed diet compared to sunflower seeds, whereas pilot results suggest that diet type has no effect on uric acid circulation. So far, these findings do not support our hypothesis that fruit consumption elevates antioxidant status in an herbivorous bird species and instead that differences in types of seeds consumed (at least for carotenoids) drives variation in antioxidant circulation.

Bidur Pantha

MENTAL HEALTH APPLICATIONS: POTENTIAL TO HELP COLLEGE STUDENTS - Bidur Pantha
Abstract: In recent years, college students in the age range of 18-31 years, show a significantly greater stress level than any other age range. However, the prevalence of mental health applications (apps for a smart phone) makes it possible for many students to get help online for their anxiety and stress. The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of this technology in their mental health action plan for 2013-2020, in which they encourage self-care via mental health apps. A common theme that is found in these apps are “healing” or calm piano music. Various studies have shown the use of music is effective to alter stress and anxiety levels in different settings. In surgery, for example, sedative music showed reduction of anxiety and stress in both the doctors and patients. Colleges have recently invested significant resources in “wellness” programs, and it is worth further investigating college students’ responses to mental health apps. My research aims to determine the effectiveness of meditation and sleep applications on the reduction of anxiety and stress levels in college students with a focus on healing piano music. The main questions addressed are: To what extent can these apps provide a way for college students to get assistance for their mental health? How specifically does healing piano music reduce anxiety and stress? What are the results of the survey on how music therapy impacts college students based on their academic year in school? To further research the correlation between piano music and stress/anxiety, my research utilizes a survey taken by college students to measure their stress and anxiety levels before, during, and after musical intervention. I first hypothesize that seniors and freshman will have the greatest levels of anxiety and stress. I predict this because freshmen are new to the college environment while seniors are graduating. My second hypothesis is that college students will benefit from mental health apps and utilize them more if provided by their university. Healing piano music along with other aspects of mental health apps can potentially help college students feel calmer before exams, job interviews, falling asleep, etc. Because of the decreased nerves, it may allow for college students to perform overall better in various scenarios including the ones listed above. The results of this study will be useful to young adults and student service administrators at colleges across the country who are investing in programs and practices to help ease students’ anxieties and promote their successes.

Rozabel Peterson

PROTEOMICS: THE NEW BEGINNING TO DISCOVERING A DRUG TREATMENT FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA - Rozabel Peterson
Abstract: Though schizophrenia was categorized as a mental illness over 100 years ago, there is a plethora of knowledge that continues to perplex the scientific and medical community alike. This tragic mental disorder affects approximately 1% of the general population, and many of these individuals are left with lingering symptoms, even with medication. Each schizophrenic patient has a different set of symptoms, so all of these patients experience a variety of positive and negative symptoms. Negative symptoms are called so as they are in absence, and some examples include apathy, anhedonia, lack of motivation, reduced social drive, and reduced cognitive functioning. Positive behavior, on the other hand, is a change in behavior or thoughts such as visual or auditory hallucinations, delusions, confused thoughts, disorganized speech, and trouble concentrating. Because schizophrenics do not share the exact same set of symptoms, research in schizophrenia requires a tremendous amount of medical resources. Over the last few years, new studies have started in the field of schizophrenia involving proteomics, or the study of proteins and their function. For this reason, a variety of studies were compiled in order to illustrate the potential methods by which schizophrenics can be treated using proteomic methods so that patients may have more control over their lives beyond this illness. This new frontier gives doctors and scientists alike a new opportunity to improve the quality of life of schizophrenia patients by providing a potential method through which patients would receive individualized treatment based on their specific symptoms.

Keeley Phillips

RESISTANCE ALLELES AND PARASITE SURVIVAL (RAPS) - Keeley Phillips
Abstract: Hundreds of thousands of people die annually from malaria; a protozoan of the genus Plasmodium is responsible for this mortality. A number of antimalarial drugs are in use in order to curb this mortality, but the ubiquity of some of these therapies has caused an evolutionary pressure resulting in the development of drug resistance in the Plasmodium parasite. Parasites carrying these resistance alleles have been shown to suffer from fitness costs in some life stages, especially within the human host. For example, in the absence of antimalarial drugs, these resistant parasites produce fewer ring-stage parasites than non-resistant parasites. The goal of this study is to investigate whether a similar cost is also present during the parasite’s time inside the mosquito vector. The Plasmodium parasite also undergoes several life stages within the mosquito vector, including a transition which requires passage across the lumen of the mosquito midgut. It has been observed that in approximately 15% of parasites that develop ookinetes in the mosquito abdomen, sporozoites never develop in the salivary glands, indicating that passage across the midgut lumen is a significant barrier in parasite development. I aim to investigate a possible correlation between passage through the midgut lumen and drug-resistance trends in Plasmodium falciparum parasites. This study contains a total of 686 Anopheles mosquitoes: 197 Anopheles gambiae and 489 Anopheles funestus samples collected in high malaria transmission areas of Mozambique between March and June of 2016. Sanger sequencing will be used to determine the prevalence of known resistance alleles for anti-malarial drugs: chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt), multidrug resistance (pfmdr1) gene, dihydropteroate synthase (pfdhps) and dihydrofolate reductase (pfdhfr). I will compare prevalence of resistance between abdomen and head/thorax in order to determine whether drug resistant parasites are disproportionately hindered during their passage through the midgut lumen. The results of this study will illuminate a possible cost of resistance in Plasmodium falciparum parasites during its mosquito life stages, which may open the door for new methods of targeting resistant parasites within the mosquito vector.

Molly Redman

ASSESSING DECISION AIDS FOR CONTRACEPTIVE SELECTION - Molly Redman
Abstract: Selecting a contraceptive method that best fits an individual is vital to maintaining health and preventing unintended pregnancy. The lack of knowledge and awareness of highly efficient methods such as the Implant and the Intrauterine Device (IUD) varieties results in low adoption rates, especially in young women. The objective of this research is to evaluate two prominent decision aids from Planned Parenthood and Bedsider for accuracy and usability when assisting in contraceptive method selection. The findings from this study will help us to create a more effective and user-friendly decision aid tailored to the subpopulation of college women. For this purpose, we reviewed the literature to retrieve the information and guidelines relevant to birth control usage and usability heuristics. Based on this review, we performed a usability walkthrough for both tools. We also developed test cases that enumerated the combination of multiple decision factors within the Planned Parenthood quiz. We have found that the Bedsider tool adheres to the principle of accessibility, as information is presented using clear language that is understandable by a lay person. However, the user may experience cognitive overload as all methods and all decision factors are laid out in one table. While the tool does allow for small scale comparison between contraceptive methods, there is limited user control as it lacks the ability to filter decision factors. The Planned Parenthood tool provides strong user control by using input to generate customized recommendations. Among a total of 200 cases executed on this tool, 174 (87%) follows the guideline of recommending at least one long acting reversible contraceptive method to women. However, this tool does not provide visual presentation or consistency of decisions because its recommendations do not always reflect user preferences. Specifically, for 177 test cases with a strong user preference on contraceptive method or delivery, 108 (61.02%) did not return a recommendation that accommodates these preferences. The results suggest that there are gaps in the current tools that should be addressed to create better contraceptive recommendations for the user. For the next phase of our research, we will conduct a focus group interview to get further feedback on the identified gaps and other user needs/preferences, to create a contraceptive decision aid that provides both effective and user-friendly support for college women.

Zhela L Sabir

VITAMIN D IMPACTS NRF-2 AND ANTIOXIDATION PATHWAYS THAT MODULATE CELLULAR AGING - Zhela L Sabir
FINALIST: BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY: UNDERGRADUATE THIRD PLACE

Abstract: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, commonly acquired via dietary intake and/or from endogenous cutaneous synthesis in response to ultraviolet radiation. It also plays a key role in preventing oxidative damage, potentially delaying the aging process, and as an anti-carcinogenic agent. The biologically active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D), binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and promotes formation of an active complex with the retinoid X receptor (RXR) called VDR-RXR. This VDR-RXR heterodimer controls vitamin D-regulated genes in such target tissues as kidney and colon, modulates immune defenses, and controls cellular proliferation. The activation or presence of antioxidants eliminates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and can therefore prevent cellular damage stimulated by ROS. Target genes encoding antioxidant enzymes contain antioxidant-responsive elements (AREs) which act as binding sites for transcriptional regulators such as nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf-2). This study aims to investigate the influence of vitamin D-VDR signaling on Nrf-2 activity. ARE-luciferase reporter plasmids were used to measure Nrf-2 activity in human kidney cells in the presence of 1,25D/VDR. Results indicate that VDR does not directly interact with the ARE on target genes. Instead, cells transfected with both Nrf-2 and VDR modulated Nrf-2 activity in a 1,25D- and VDR-dependent manner; with low 1,25D increasing Nrf-2 activity while higher concentrations inhibited Nrf-2. When treating cells with 1,25D and/or urolithin-A, a nutraceutical hypothesized to cooperate with vitamin D, Nrf-2 activity was instead consistently upregulated. Moreover, qPCR studies with Nrf-2 target genes GCLC and HMOX1 revealed similar data consistent with the luciferase-based assays. Collectively, these results imply that VDR likely targets Nrf-2 genes indirectly either by influencing the activity of Nrf-2 transfactors and/or by post-translational modification of Nrf-2 to either activate or suppress Nrf-2-directed gene regulation. The modulation of Nrf-2 activity by a VDR-mediated pathway suggests a possible regulatory role for vitamin D in anti-oxidation and cellular aging. 

Emily Santora

THE IMPACT OF MENSTRUAL EDUCATION ON THE TREATMENT OF GYNECOLOGICAL CONDITIONS - Emily Santora
FINALIST: SOCIAL SCIENCES: GRADUATE STUDENT THIRD PLACE

Abstract: In the US, menstrual education has historically been heavily stigmatized and lacking biologically accurate information. A lack of quality menstrual education during preadolescence may contribute to obstacles that women face in reproductive health care. Further research is needed to understand how girls' menstrual education experiences impact the ways in which they understand and seek treatment for common gynecological conditions. Methods: A mixed methods approach allowed examination of the effects of menstrual education on ability to recognize and seek treatment for gynecological conditions. First, a literature review revealed the historical and social context surrounding menstrual education in the US. To identify current challenges and gaps in knowledge related to menstruation, I conducted focus groups with college-aged women. Finally, semi-structured one-on-one interviewers with women diagnosed with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome allowed better examination of the relationship between menstrual education and reproductive health outcomes. Developing a codebook with definitions and exemplars of significant text segments and applying it to the data revealed themes. Results: The most common themes included sources and quality of information, stigmatization of menstruation, preparedness to manage menstruation, and ability to identify abnormal menstruation. Women often receive information about menstruation from their mothers, friends, teachers, as well as the Internet and social media. However, those sources of information sometimes perpetuate stigmatized ideas of menstruation and misinformation, contributing to negative attitudes and feelings of shame and fear about menstruation. That poor quality of information was instrumental in the ability to identify symptoms of abnormal menstruation, as women have little knowledge of what is considered normal versus abnormal menstruation. Thus, women expressed a desire to know more about their own reproductive health, including ovulation, fertility, and birth control options. Conclusions: Poor menstrual education experiences leave women ill-equipped to identify and seek treatment for gynecological conditions. Those findings may have implications for the trajectory of treatments for endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, contributing to a decreased quality of life and potentially impacting future female reproductive potential. Future research may further explore the implications of a lack of access to technologies and therapies that health care providers use to treat menstrual disorders. 

Missy Tran

AN ANALYSIS OF NUCLEAR TRANSPORT PROTEINS IPO4, CAMK4, AND NTF2 IN ALZHEIMER’S - Missy Tran
Abstract: Previous research has suggested a strong correlation between Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and malfunction of the Nuclear Pore Complex (NPC). This brings into question the maintenance of other functions and processes that rely on the regulatory factors of the Nuclear Pore Complex in AD afflicted cells. Research was conducted to analyze the relevance of nuclear transport proteins and regulators in AD and how they may affect the functionality of neural tissue, specifically the proteins IPO4, CAMK4, and NTF2. Analysis of gene expression data for these proteins has suggested that there is a significant level of down regulation in these genes in AD afflicted cells compared to Non-diseased tissue. A comprehensive study was conducted to explore the localization of these proteins in neural cells and to quantify the amount of protein using immunohistochemistry and Western Blot. Mislocalization and variation in protein levels could be indicative of transport errors related to cargo. Lower levels of immunoreactivity for NTF2, an active transport regulator of RAN, suggests there is a correlation between the development of Alzheimer’s and dysfunction in cell transport. Results establish greater importance and need for studies investigating NPC transporters and regulators to gain a holistic understanding of AD at a cellular level. Future plans for study are focused on immunoprecipitation and nuclear cytoplasmic prep to verify binding and localization of proteins. Functional validation of proteins could be conducted through knockouts in cell culture or analysis of the interactions of these proteins with their cargo or tau. 

Dina Ziganshina

WHY DOES RUSSIA HAVE A HIGHER ABORTION RATE THAN OTHER POST-SOVIET COUNTRIES? - Dina Ziganshina
FINALIST: SCIENCE IN SOCIETY: GRADUATE STUDENT FIRST PLACE

Abstract: Induced abortion is controversial internationally, which makes it an ever-relevant research topic. In 1920, USSR was the first country to legalize abortion upon request. When USSR dissolved in 1991, the political ecosystem of all 15 post-Soviet countries led to similar abortion laws, allowing abortion on request until 12 weeks and in special circumstances until 22 weeks. However, abortion rates vary greatly across these countries with Russia consistently the highest, according to United Nations. Why, when the abortion laws are so similar? Methods: I compared UN population-level fertility indicators in 15 post-Soviet countries between 1991 and 2018 to understand the systemic differences as they relate to abortion and form questions and hypotheses for future research. The main indicators in this preliminary study were total and age specific abortion and fertility rates, unmet need for contraception, and types of contraception used. Results: I found few systemic differences that explain the prevalence of high abortion rate in Russia compared to other post-Soviet countries. Russia had similar or higher rate of contraceptive use (any method). However, the most popular form of contraception in Russia is the male condom, which is less reliable than other modern methods. Additionally, Russia had the highest rate of relying on the rhythm method among all post-Soviet countries. Predictably, Russia has some of the lowest fertility rates and the highest abortion rates for each age group. Conclusion: Use of less reliable contraceptive methods cannot be the only reason for the h igh abortion rate in Russia, so what are the other factors? The next research step is the systematic review of interview and survey studies on abortion reasoning in Russia. After that, I will combine all findings in an agent-based model to test my current hypothesis that many factors, including high price of contraception in presence of free abortion, lack of standardized sex education, and intimate partner violence are the leading interacting causes of high abortion rate in Russia. Figuring out why Russia has the highest abortion rate among all post-Soviet countries in the presence of very similar abortion laws is important, since it shows that legality of abortion may not be the leading cause of frequent abortions in a population. Comparing Russia to other post-Soviet countries is a perfect case study for learning what the leading causes of high abortion rates are.

2020 AAAS Students

Each year, the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett the Honors College at Arizona State University send undergraduate researchers as representatives to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Learn more about travel and logistics. 

Danielle Brister 
"It was my first time presenting research at such a large meeting, but I had a wonderful experience at AAAS this year. The judges asked such insightful comments on my project, it really encouraged me for future conferences and presentations. It was incredible to be included as a part of such a diverse scientific community."


Delaney Bunker
Winner of the 2020 AAAS Student E-Poster Competition in the Social Sciences category. 
“Science: An interdisciplinary collaboration, collection, and cooperation. During the 2020 AAAS Conference, I think this was most notably depicted through the opportunity to exchange ideas by listening and being listened to by people from around the globe and peers from my own campus. My curiosity is inspired by the diverse world we have the opportunity to learn from!”

Madison Frazier 
 “This experience was not only very fun but very educational. I got to learn a lot about the fields I’m interested in while also getting to show research of my own. It was also great getting to know everyone in the group and their research as well!”

Brenna Kayce
AAAS was such an incredible experience and I am very fortunate to have been able to attend. I really enjoyed being able to sit in on a variety of educational seminars and present the beginnings of my own exciting research. It was wonderful being able to connect with new ASU faculty and fellow classmates. This was my first scientific conference— a large one I might add— and I am looking forward to AAAS 2021.

Samantha Maas 
"I had a great time at AAAS learning about all the research people were conducting and meeting a ton of accomplished and kind people. I loved being able to go to a wide range of talks -- especially the ones about how scientists are trying to become more involved in policy -- and getting the ability to present my research to a wide audience."

Kenna McRae
"The AAAS was such an amazing opportunity to be part of the scientific community.  I was so honored to present my own research and enjoyed all the conversations I had with other researchers from around the world.  I learned so much and I am so excited to participate in more conferences in the future!"

Haley Nadone 
"At AAAS, I was able to attend lectures given by experts from a wide range of fields, network with people from around the world, and present my own research to an esteemed audience. The experience challenged me, inspired me, and allowed me to explore my passions more deeply. I can easily say that attending AAAS proved invaluable not only to my education but to my future career as well."

Karan Shah 
"Attending AAAS gave me the opportunity to learn about the larger world of scientific research, policy, and communication enlightening me to current issues in the fields and giving me an idea as to what the future entails. Attending many of the amazing talks, I was able to better determine where I want my place in this future to be -- policy, communication, and ethics -- areas I’ve always been interested in but hadn’t explored deeply, and through networking events, I was able to meet many people working within these fields, getting a better idea of what they entailed and determining the best path for me to reach my specific goals. Overall, AAAS was an amazing learning experience that helped me grow as a scientist, giving me the opportunity to present my work to a greater audience, learn more about the field, and learn more about my own goals, as well as getting the chance to explore the wonderful city of Seattle with new friends and old."

Maya Shrikant
"Attending AAAS was one of the best opportunities I have had in my time as an undergraduate in Barrett and the Biology and Society program. Being able to prepare and present my research, attend sessions and talks outside of my disciplinary interests and connect with other students and faculty on the trip was invaluable. I will carry this amazing experience with me throughout my personal and professional career in science and communication."

Tal Sneh
Honorable Mention in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology category.
“The opportunity to travel to AAAS with a group of peers who were all going to go through the same presentation and networking opportunities during our trip was absolutely invaluable. Beyond that, the challenge of presenting for a semi-technical audience is a necessary one that forces you to evaluate the impact of your work and refocuses your entire lab time. Besides now I can tell my mom I’ve seen Bill Gates in person. I know few people have probably scrolled all the way down to read what I have to say since I’m so late in the alphabet, but to potential students for next year, don’t miss this opportunity, and for the donors, thank you for this incredible growth experience!”

Whitney Tuoti
“It has been a pleasure attending the AAAS 2020 conference. The event was a wonderful opportunity to improve my presentation skills and convey my research to a general audience. Furthermore, the discussions I attended, the other students I met and developed friendships with, and the atmosphere filled with new and exciting scientific advancements made me realize the true strength that comes with being a part of a scientific community.”

Theora Tiffney
Graduate Student Honorable Mention in the Social Sciences category.
“AAAS was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the research being conducted across a wide spectrum of academic fields, and to connect with academics and specialists from around the world. It gave me the chance to present my research to a broader audience, and to explore diverse career opportunities. It was a valuable experience—and a lot of fun, too!”

Ananth Udupa 
Honorable Mention in the Environment & Ecology category.
“Upon first glance, attending the 2020 AAAS conference was an incredible opportunity to become a better informed researcher. The conference allowed me to present research I find extremely important and hear about new research in the field. But, more so, I found that this trip introduced me to friendships with incredible ASU students who are very passionate in their respective fields and who I can now seek out for advice in the future endeavors.”

Richa Venkatraman
Winner of the 2020 AAAS Student E-Poster Competition in the Science in Society category.
“I’m glad my first conference experience was AAAS. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk about my work in a welcoming environment and with the support of my fellow students. I learned so much from the panels and presentations I went to and am grateful I got to learn from researchers from such a diverse array of fields.”

 

2019 AAAS Students

 Each year, the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett the Honors College at Arizona State University send undergraduate researchers as representatives to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Learn more about travel and logistics.

Delaney Bunker
"At AAAS, I was able to engage with and learn from researchers across a wide range of disciplines, providing me new and exciting ideas. My undergraduate path has shaped me to be a mix of both a natural and social sciences student, so it was inspiring to see these two worlds collaborate at such a high level!" 

 

Katelyn Dinkel
"It was my first time presenting research at such a large meeting, but I had a wonderful experience at AAAS this year. The judges asked such insightful comments on my project, it really encouraged me for future conferences and presentations. It was incredible to be included as a part of such a diverse scientific community."

Hayley Dunlop
 "AAAS was a wonderful opportunity to practice my science communication skills and to network with public health professionals from all around the world. I learned so much about topics ranging from science education to food waste to flu vaccines, and I feel that attending this conference was a perfect way to round out my education in SOLS and Barrett at ASU"

Rachael King 

"The AAAS was such an amazing opportunity to be part of the scientific community.  I was so honored to present my own research and enjoyed all the conversations I had with other researchers from around the world.  I learned so much and I am so excited to participate in more conferences in the future!"
 

Emily Santora
Winner of the 2019 AAAS Student E-Poster Competition in the Social Sciences category. 
"Attending the AAAS meeting allowed me the opportunity to learn new and innovative ideas from my peers across different fields and disciplines, which was a very enriching experience. Also, I was able to speak about my own research and be challenged to think about my project in different ways that I hadn't previously given thought to." 

Matthew Siegel
"I am truly grateful that I was able to participate and present at the AAAS annual meeting. The opportunity to prepare and present, network, and become immersed in the powerful and encouraging atmosphere and ideas that were shared has and will positively impact my life and the way that I view myself as a learning scientist."

Esther Sim
"The AAAS Meeting was an amazing opportunity to network and meet likeminded, driven students, as well as professionals working in research and policy. The meeting has really allowed me to see the opportunities for growth within science policy, which is an interest of mine, and I was able to get great feedback on my poster and presentation. Overall, this meeting has allowed me to not only meet amazing people, but also envision a potential path for my future that I had not previously considered."

Andrej Sodoma
"When I first arrived at the meeting, I was worried that my topic, Glioblastoma,  was too niche for a conference as broad as this one and my lack of experience with presenting would leave the judges underwhelmed. However, the size of AAAS provided experts from all areas, even mine, and my Barrett schoolmates supported me through the entire process, making AAAS well worth it. Overall, the combination of great minds, variety, Barrett, and the beautiful city of Washington D.C. made this trip an experience to remember."

 

Margaret Zheng
"AAAS was such an incredible opportunity to share research and communicate with other scientists. I really enjoy that AAAS is a general science conference because it allows me to learn about other fields expand beyond my own research focus. I'm extremely thankful for getting a chance to participate, and it was a great learning experience."

Meilin Zhu
Honorable Mention in the Developmental Biology, Physiology and Immunology category.
"I really enjoyed having the opportunity to present my research to a general science audience. AAAS is such a large conference, which allowed me to network with fellow researchers along with individuals involved in policy. After my presentation, a Science and Technology AAAS fellow reached out to me to speak more about my work, and I also got to meet with some graduate students at programs I am interviewing at this semester." 

2018 AAAS Students 

 The Center for Biology and Society along with Barrett, the Honors College funded 16 undergraduate students to attend and present their research at AAAS this year in Austin, TX. Like past years, ASU research was visible and noticed at the conference. Students presented on a variety of topics ranging from treatment for pancreatic cancer to the history of tuberculosis in Arizona to the effect of the urban heat island on black widow spiders.

The ever-present poster tubes were missing this year as poster presentationsLydia Mendoza: Photo by Andrea Cottrell had a new style: e-posters.  Each student presented their poster while it was displayed on an 80 inch monitor behind them.  They were judged by a panel of 3 - 5 area experts and had to condense their research into a 3-minute talk. In addition, each student answered questions for 2 - 3 minutes after their presentations.  Both Lexi Darby and Ella Cabrera-Brown received Honorable Mentions for their poster presentations! Lexi received her award in the category of Science and Society while Ella presented her research in the Brain and Behavior category.

ASU Students at AAASAAAS is the largest scientific conference in the world with hundreds of sessions taking place each day. This year, the theme "Advancing Science: Discovery to Application" featured a wide variety of session tracts from which to choose. The 16 undergraduates all marveled at the wide variety of session topics and were able to fill each day with new and interesting research.

For many of the students, this was their first scientific conference. Lydia Mendoza reflected that "the ability to present my research was the most beneficial part of the trip because it forced me to consider how I would communicate with my audience and what I want scientists and the public to take away from my research." Some students are preparing for graduate school and found the conference enlightening.  "I attended multiple talks on science policy, which is what I want to study in graduate school, so it was extremely exciting to learn more about the field and meet the leading experts" commented Dina Ziganshina.

The highlight for the students was attending the annual ASU AAAS dinner whereAAAS ASU Dinner ASU faculty attending the conference gather to have dinner with the students. Center for Biology and Society's Director Jane Maienschein comments that the traditional dinner is a "way for members of the ASU community at different levels to get to know each other." The group enjoyed welcoming remarks from both Dr. Margaret Nelson, Vice Dean of Barrett, the Honors College along with Dr. Setheraman "Panch" Panchanathan, Chief Research & Innovation Officer of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. 

We look forward to the 2019 conference in Washington, DC!

2017 AAAS Students

Each year, the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett the Honors College at Arizona State University send undergraduate researchers as representatives to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. This year, a group of 11 undergraduate researchers traveled to Boston, Massachusetts from February 16th–19th. The conference focused on advancing science through policy and public engagement.

Recent political events rippled throughout the conference this year, as attendants vocalized their support for the value of science in society and evidence based facts. This buzz rose to a roar at the conclusion of Naomi Oreskes’ plenary talk titled, "Should Scientists Serve as Sentinels?, when she implored the hundreds in attendance that, “Facts do not speak for themselves, YOU have to speak for them.”

And so, our students did. Eleven undergraduate students—from microbiologists to public health to science education researchers—each traveled from Tempe to Boston to present posters with the results of their arduous research efforts. Jeremy Adams, Amber Gomez, Carlyn Harris, Lakshmee Malladi, Frea Mehta, Tristan Neal, Hoang Nguyen, Monet Niesluchowski, Raud Razzaghi, Shiv Shah, and Casey Weinstein reflected on their research and conference experience. For most, it was their first time presenting at a major national scientific conference. The students were grateful, stating that the conference was a tremendous opportunity both to present their own findings and to hear about and engage with cutting edge science from other fields. All students agreed about the value of presenting their work to a broad audience and receiving feedback during the poster session.

Amber Gomez presented the winning poster in the Medicine and Public Health category. Carlyn Harris and Shiv Shah each received honorable mentions for their posters.  

On Saturday evening, after the student poster session had concluded, faculty and students joined together for dinner in what has become a wonderful ASU community tradition at AAAS. With the stress and pressure of the poster competition behind them, students engaged faculty in lively dinnertime conversation about everything from science policy to the virtues of a delicious dessert.

"I received some incredible feedback on my work and felt like I was finally becoming an expert in my field after presenting my poster." Carlyn's poster received an Honorable Mention."

"When I first walked into the convention center, I was in awe - it was so beautiful! I felt so proud wearing teh conference name badge and couldn't believe I was actually at AAAS... Although I was nervous during the poster presentation, my interaction with the judges and some of the general public who stopped by my poster showed me how invaluable my AAAS experience was.

AAAS was a great experience for all of us. The knoledge transaction went both ways as I was also able to learn a lot from the presentations of others and provide some insight.

The conference helped me gain familiarity on submects that I previously had little knowledge about, and increaded my ability to apply a wide range of perspectives to Biomedial Engineering.

The AAAS meeting was the first scientific conference I've been to, and it was a great experience. I found myself interested in topics I was completely unaware of, and expanded my fascination in others

I attended many seminars on topics ranging from gene editing to science policy and these allowed me to gain a unique perspective on the scientific enterprise. I had the oppourtunity to meet many colleagues and peers through the poster session." Shiv's poster received an Honorable Mention

As an anthropology and political science student, I really enjoyed the AAAS meeting this year which focused largely on where science meets policy. The conference was also an incredible way to practice talking about my research and how it relates to policy decisions on a broader scale.

AAAS was honestly an amazing opportunity. It was my first scientific conference and I already feel like it is benefiting me in many ways. I made some fantastic professional connections that I am now in contact with. I can't wait to attend another conference!

AAAS treated me well. Besides many interesting talks and sessions, the poster sections gave me the opportunity to present my work and learn from other's projects. Another graduate student shared her experience, a judge gave me suggestions to improve my study and another visitor asked for my PI contact information. I am thankful for having such a great learning experience.

2016 AAAS Students

Coming up soon.

2015 AAAS Students

A group of ASU students impressed the judges at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2015.

Funded by the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett, the Honors College, the students travelled to the San Jose Convention Center, in San Jose, CA, from Thursday, February 12, through Monday, February 16, 2015 to participate in the annual AAAS student poster competition.

The group included three CBS graduate students and thirteen undergraduates.

Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

Elizabeth Barnes

Elizabeth Barnes
Degree: Biology & Society, PhD
“I liked meeting important people in my field and learning about effective science communication. Presenting my poster was an overwhelmingly positive experience where I was able to get feedback on my work from individuals of diverse backgrounds in science. My experience was awesome.”

Yasmynn Chowdhury

Yasmynn Chowdhury
1st Prize in Cellular & Molecular Biology Poster Competition
Degree: Microbiology & Global Health
“I enjoyed the challenge of summarizing my project in a way that sparked the interest of those with just a few minutes to listen, and valued all of the feedback from judges and other passersby. My favorite thing about AAAS was the inspiration I found from the passion of the speakers for their topics of study, and the diversity of fields represented and the interdisciplinary nature of the meeting.”

Eugene Chung

Eugene Chung
Degree: Microbiology
“The AAAS conference gave me an amazing opportunity to present my research to a broader audience including researchers in various fields, other undergraduate researchers like myself, and even families with young children.”

Lelan Dao

Lelan Dao
Degree: Biochemistry
“I was privileged to be able to attend many sessions that stimulated my thinking. The poster presentation allowed me to connect with others who had similar passions. The judges asked me many thought provoking questions, and many people who stopped to talk to me had similar interests.”

Rachel Gur-Arie

Rachel Gur-Arie
1st Prize in Science & Society Poster Competition
Degree: Biology & Society
“I absolutely loved AAAS. Perhaps the best part for me was feeling like, for the first time, that I belonged to a community. I reconnected with people I met last year at the conference and over the summer at my internship, and they all said that my future was bright! I am still talking to them over email and I’m grateful that AAAS provided me this opportunity.”

Cole Helsell

Cole Helsell
Honorable Mention in Cellular & Molecular Biology Poster Competition
Degree: Biochemistry
“Presenting my poster was a fun and exciting challenge in science communication, because none of the judges had very much background knowledge in TRP Channels or computational structural biology. Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to practice communication and see interesting new advances in the field, and I am grateful to have had such an opportunity.”

Anika Larson

Anika Larson
Degree: Biology & Society and Global Studies
“The feedback I received on the poster from both judges and attendees was the most valuable part of AAAS for me; I came away with new ideas regarding research methods and ways to improve the study. It was wonderful practice to present the poster to attendees from a variety of disciplines and interests--from specialists in science education to researchers in various fields who were simply intrigued by the title.”

Christopher Luna

Christopher Luna
1st Prize in Physical Sciences Poster Competition
Degree: Mathematics & Physics
“While I have presented my work at many conferences, I really appreciate the chance to present at AAAS because it gave me the opportunity to share my research with the general public and other scientists outside of my field of research. My favorite thing about AAAS is that it promotes the intermingling of novel scientific ideas in one general setting.”

Hannah McAtee

Hannah McAtee
Degree: Global Health & Spanish
“I had a very positive experience overall. It was interesting to present my poster and discuss different aspects of the poster depending on my audience. I am thankful for this opportunity as an undergrad, because many other poster presenters were graduate/PhD students.”

Zuena Mushtaq

Zuena Mushtaq
Degree: Microbiology & Biochemistry
“My favorite thing about AAAS was being able to meet so many like-minded individuals who had a great love for science in general. I really enjoyed presenting a poster and explaining my work to the public. Overall, it was a great experience and I would love to go again next year!”

Andrea Noziglia

Andrea Noziglia
Degree: Biology & Society, MS
"This was my first experience at a general science meeting, and I really enjoyed the variety of backgrounds I saw in those attending. My field is increasingly interdisciplinary, and it was fascinating to present my research in the AAAS environment, in a different way than at the specific conferences I've experienced in the past."

Pooja Paode

Pooja Paode
Degree: Biological Sciences
“My experience was amazing. The student who went were all so passionate and bright. Presenting the poster was also a great opportunity to talk about my research to more of a lay audience.”

Annelise Silva

Annelise Silva
Degree: Psychology
“Having the ability to present my work to such a wide variety of experts and peers was an experience unlike any other. I have travelled to conferences before, but my experience at AAAS was one I will be eternally grateful for.”

Maryam Waris

Maryam Waris
Degree: Biochemistry & English
“I would describe my overall experience as enlightening. This was my first poster presentation and I really enjoyed it! The conference itself was a great opportunity for me to explore different fields and specialties in science that will help me decide what area I want to specialize in in the future!”

Matthew Ykema

Matthew Ykema
Degree: Molecular Biosciences & Economics
“AAAS was a great way to learn about new research, communicating science, and science policy. I was able to network with scientists from around the world while being able to share my research with my colleagues and the public.”

Yawen Zou

Yawen Zou
Degree: History and Philosophy of Science, PhD
“It has been a great experience attending the AAAS conference. In my poster session, I talked to people from all walks of life, not only scientists, but also people from media, funding agencies, and industry. They offered me perspectives that I hadn't thought of before, and I feel more motivated about my research now."

2014 AAAS Students

Julia Anglin
"It was a great privilege to attend and present my research at the AAAS conference. This was my first scientific meeting and I truly had no idea how much fun it is to attend a conference! Sharing the research that I have been conducting at ASU at the student poster session was a great benefit to me. Being able to concisely relay scientific information is an important tool that I am striving to develop and this gave me the chance to cultivate this skill. In addition, the poster session gave me the chance to receive important feedback on my research and network with people within my field. The meeting was a wonderful place to listen and learn from experts within my field of study as well as hear from researches in other disciplines that I may not otherwise have been exposed to. I attended lectures ranging from topics on understanding the human brain, addiction and big data which will directly benefit me in my academic career path. I also attended lectures on fracking and global warming that allows me to be a well-rounded scientist. The most memorable talk I attended was a plenary given by Alan Alda. Alan Alda is not a scientist, but he effectively informed scientists on how to relay science to non-experts in a way that is understandable and clear. This is an important issue as many individuals outside of the scientist community may misinterpret scientific findings leading misinformed medical decisions, public policy and other important issues. I took away many good ideas from this talk as well as the other sessions I attended.

Thank you to The Center for Biology and Society as well as Barrett the Honors College giving me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience." 

Jared Becker
"The 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting was a phenomenal experience I will forever cherish as a highlight of my academic career. The opportunity to present my research at a sensational conference with people from various backgrounds was the pinnacle of my senior year. I learned how to professionally present my research to people from varying backgrounds, the value of attending a conference, and about so many difference areas of scientific research. The session that stood out to me was a study on how various proteins affect long term and short term memory. The brain is a fascinating organ in the human body that is indeed the last frontier of the study of human anatomy. To gain more insight about how the brain works was intriguing and has sparked an interest for me to learn more about neuroscience. In the future I will try to network more with people about their research. As my first conference, I did not do as well as I could have in terms of meeting people and finding out how to get involved in their area of research, but I know that the next conference I attend I will do a better job. The poster competition was valuable because it forced me to thoroughly understand my research and explain it clearly and concisely to people unfamiliar with my research area. Overall I would like to thank The Center for Biology and Society, as well as Barrett, The Honors College, for the opportunity to represent their organizations and present my research at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting."

Claire Cambron
"Our trip to Chicago and the AAAS conference surpassed my expectations in so many ways. The city was busy and exciting with such a cool sense of culture captured through their public art and architecture. I enjoyed getting to explore. I found the conference especially meaningful due to its diversity and breadth. It was catered toward a broad audience of scientists, and as a result, I could follow every talk that I attended, and I gained something from each one. That was my favorite part.
I attended several talks over our visit. My favorite was one on solitary confinement, which featured a diverse panel of scientists and even one man who had been in solitary confinement for 29 years. It was interesting to learn more about the moral implications of the practice as well as the terrible neurological impact it has on a person. Otherwise, I attended several talks that focused on different aspects of genetic research, such as epigenetics, differences in gene expression in male and female rats, and the challenge of privatizing a person’s genetic information.
I have always enjoyed conferences because I look forward to the opportunity to share my research and learn from other scientists as well. I think conferences that focus on collaboration and teaching such as this one are incredibly productive and I learned a lot from presenting my poster and attending the lectures. I think it’s very important to challenge scientists to present because the communication gaps that exist between different areas of science as well as science and the public pose the biggest challenges for scientific progress."

Alexi Choueiri
"Attending the AAAS Meeting in Chicago is definitely an experience to remember. Exploring the city of Chicago and networking with scientists was just the icing on the cake. The biggest highlight was making new friends who have a passion for research and learning. AAAS taught me the effort scientists make in exchanging their ideas in an attempt to collaborate and push the frontiers of science. The best part was the number of individuals who attended from an international background, since it demonstrated the extent scientists take to congregate in one area. There was a diverse amount of  fascinating sessions, giving me an opportunity to learn from all facets of science. I attended a session that discussed how research can be translated into the realm of business and how to be an entrepreneur as a scientist. It gave me a unique perspective on how the application of science in the business world can have a huge impact on technology and medicine. It made me question how I can deliver scientific research to impact communities. AAAS gave me a positive impression on scientific conferences, making me eager to attend conferences whenever possible to network and learn from passionate scientists. The poster competition taught me how to present myself and my research in a concise manner to a variety of audiences. Receiving feedback on my research and performance from top scientists was critical in cultivating my skill set as a researcher. I would repeat my entire AAAS experience all over again and enjoy every second of it."

Abhishek Dharan
"Thanks to the support of the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett, The Honors College, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago. As a graduating senior this was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget. Before the AAAS Annual Meeting I had never attended a research conference and was unsure of what to expect. As part of the ASU group attending the meeting I was given the support and guidance needed to prepare for this experience from the Center for Biology and Society. These meetings also helped me form relationships with my ASU peers also attending the conference.
Once in Chicago we were free to travel between the different sessions of the conference so we could hear whatever talks piqued our interesting. The variety of fields represented at the various sessions was exciting since it allowed us to learn so much from talks outside our field of study ranging from genome hacking to public policy making for scientists. The talk that I found especially helpful to me was the session on the Fulbright Grant, which I hope to apply for in the future. The poster session was also a great learning experience because I gained critical skills in public speaking and presenting technical knowledge to people outside my field. The highlight of the conference was finding out an ASU faculty member I had presented my work to especially well was one of my judges for the student poster competition - I had no idea! 

After returning from this conference there are many lessons I have learned to help me better navigate future conferences. In the future I will definitely be more assertive in developing contacts and relationships with other researchers. Overall this conference was a huge success thanks to the support from my research mentors, the Center for Biology and Society, and Barrett, The Honors College."

Marlene Garcie-Neuer
"I think the best thing about the conference was that I got to learn about a lot of new techniques and research that was going on at other institutions. I really like the sessions because it gave me the opportunity to learn about techniques and areas of research which I would not have heard about in the classroom at ASU. It was also great to chat with the researchers in person and have discussion about their research! My favorite session that I attended was one on Noncoding RNA and it’s functions in disease and cancer. The speakers were both excellent and we were able to have a great group discussion about the future of their research. I also attended the Epigenetics in Brain and Behavior sessions which was also really interesting, however due to the terrible weather on the east coast all of the speakers couldn’t make and had to give there presentation through gotomeeting. Go technology! 
The poster conference was great because I got to chat with very many people who were interested in my research! One of those interested people was from the Baylor School of Medicine and was interested in my sequencing techniques since he is working with a project where he is sequencing bacteria that have been in space! This was also a great opportunity for me to talk about my work and have lively discussions about my techniques, and past and present research.  The poster presentation also gave me the opportunity to see other peoples view on my research and their doubts and suggestions that I would not normally get in my own lab.

I feel that I definitely learned to express myself research better and also how to talk about my research on different levels. The poster session was also open to the public so I had a few curious people with little to no scientific background! It was fun switching from basic science to having to answer really in depth questions!"

Rachel Gur-Arie
"I had the TIME OF MY LIFE on this trip. To be able to explore an amazing city in addition to attending & presenting at one of the most important annual scientific conferences globally was a once in a lifetime experience that I am so grateful. I attended many informative sessions, but the one that stood out to me in particular was one on perception that Pew & Gallup put on. Maybe it was because it is so similar to the work I am doing for my thesis, but I felt like I really had a connection to the work they were presenting. It showed me that I will find the right career one day, but more importantly, it showed me that what I am passionate about it valuable and viable. I always felt that because I seem to be the only one interested in what I am that I would not be able to find a career that gave back to the community and was rewarding. I also really appreciated the emphasis on the interdisciplinary aspect of science. That's what I'm all about, and I love how they were spreading the message of having people expand their views regarding what science is. It was as if the people who were in the lectures I attended were on the same page as me...or I was on the same page as them. That is more like it. Plus, when we weren't attending lectures or presenting, we got to do a tiny bit of Chicago exploring. This trip showed me that I BELONG IN A CITY! Oh my gosh. I have grown up 10 minutes south of ASU, and now I attend ASU. Even though I love Arizona and everything it has to offer, this trip showed me to value and IMPORTANCE of travel. To travel is to live!"

Rebecca Harkness
"I found this experience extremely enriching and rewarding. Being able to interact at an international level with some of the best people in their respective fields all in one place is amazing. I was able to go to many different sessions that i would not have been able to at an archaeology conference. Being able o see how different disciplines approach different topics was invaluable. I was able to see that in climate science they look back at historical records, but not so much the archaeological record which I believe is something that could benefit them. The student poster competition was also a wonderful experience because I was able to interact with so many people that I normally would not have been able to. I talked to a physicist and an immunologist  who had a side interest in ceramics and the area my study took place. It was really cool. Basically this conference is awesome and they should keep funding people to go."

Manmeet Kaur
"I felt the AAAS conference was a great experience! Not only did the poster presentation provide me with valuable feedback for my research, but it also gave me many ideas and directions for further expanding and enriching my work. I was fortunate to be able to meet and network with experts who were more than willing to discuss and even guide with my research in the future. Also, learning about the background of the experts I met really provided insight on how these researchers developed their careers to cater to their research interests. Furthermore, the ability to discuss my research with such a wide variety of people, from students,interested public, to experts, also expanded my public speaking skills. This enabled me to articulate my research with different levels of technicalities and background information.

In addition, the ability to attend the wide variety of sessions the AAAS conference offered was a very unique opportunity. I was able to revisit and expand my knowledge related to my past psychology research and learn different dimensions to my current research related to international pandemic preparedness policies. I was also able to attend sessions on interesting topics I had little to no knowledge on. All the sessions were very engaging and being able to learn from well-renowned experts was great. The extensive scope of the sessions really provided the opportunity to learn new information about almost any topic of interest! It honestly was an honor to be a part of this conference. The intersection of so many important scientific research topics made the potential to learn limitless!"

Anika Larson
"I was very glad I went - the poster session was my first time ever presenting, and I think it was an ideal first venue.  I got some specific criticism on my poster from someone in my field who wasn't a judge, which was great for my research moving forward.  The judges themselves weren't from my field, so I was able to get through the first judging experience without too much stress.  I went to a few poster sessions on infectious disease management, which is the field I would like to go into and the topic I will be doing research on next year, and got a lot of updated information about infectious disease policy and recent pandemics.  I also went to a few on research policy and funding for basic research to get more background for my poster.   Overall, the conference was a great introduction to poster presenting (especially as a first experience) and the panels were definitely informative, even with half the speakers Skyping in for most of them due to the weather.  I also loved spending the weekend with other students who were all excited about and active in research, and getting to know people in different fields and majors.  The trip was definitely valuable for me, and I would love to see it continue and be able to go again next year!"

Ellen Qin
"Going to Chicago for the AAAS was a wonderful experience! I got to meet motivated and talented students from both ASU and all over the world, to attend seminars presented by well-renowned professors from many different disciplines, and to present my own research at the conference. My favorite seminar was Dr. Steven Chu's lecture on energy. Through this conference, I was able to learn the ins and outs of what to do and how to attend a conference. In particular, I learned how important networking is, and I enjoyed talking to others from various fields of scientific research. Presenting at the student poster competition allowed me to not only communicate to others on what I have been doing, but it was also a way for me to gather other people's insight on my research. I was able to leave the competition with new ideas on how I should approach the next steps of my research. After attending the AAAS conference, I am more excited, and I feel more confident about going to additional conferences in the future!"

Chanapa Tantibanchacai
"It is safe to say that attending the AAAS 2014 Annual Meeting was the most memorable and rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career thus far. The environment was invigorating; being among so many professionals and fellow science enthusiasts challenged me to think about my current and future contributions in science. Presenting my research on the national level was nerve-racking at first, but the experience truly pushed me to better understand my work and helped improve my public speaking skills. I left the poster competition with incredible feedback and encouragement, and felt validated in my work. 
Aside from the poster competition and the sessions I attended, I also participated in the National Association of Science Writers mentoring program, where I was paired up with a senior science writer and received invaluable advice on how to find work as a science writer, which is my ultimate goal upon graduation. Through that program, I also received a press pass for the meeting and was able to see the ins and outs of the press behind AAAS."

Andrew Widener
"I really enjoyed the poster presentation section because I got to talk about my project with viewers and because I didn't feel glued to my stand. I got to talk to other students and go through the exhibits to get free stuff!"

 

2013 AAAS Students

Ross Bennett_Kennett

Ross Bennett-Kennett (poster pdf)
"I really enjoyed travelling with ASU to Boston this year for the 2013 AAAS meeting. Events like this one pose an exciting opportunity to hear community feedback on my work, an opportunity not afforded to most undergraduates. I also went to see a talk on how to make tomatoes taste super sweet. They handed out candy, and it was a really enlightening opportunity to branch out of my own area of focus. Boston was wonderful, and I want to thank Barrett for the travel and Michael Crow for the wonderful dinner. Thank you so much."

Zach Berskon

Zach Berkson (poster pdf)
Honorable Mention in Math, Technology and Engineering
"The AAAS conference in Boston was a great opportunity for me. Not only was I afforded the opportunity to present my research alongside my peers, but I had the chance to explore cutting-edge research in every area of science, from robotics to sustainability. While so large as to be almost overwhelming, I had no trouble finding multiple seminars, symposia, and workshops that fit directly into my interests. I was honored to represent ASU in the national arena and thank the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett, the Honors College for their support."

Elizabeth Brito

Elizabeth Brito (poster pdf) Winning poster in Medicine and Public Health
"The AAAS Conference provided both an enjoyable and excellent learning experience. I had the opportunity to interact with students and researchers of varying scientific backgrounds. The conference provided many lectures where I was able to learn about innovative research projects and learn about fields of work outside of my own. In addition, I was able to present my research project to an out-of-field audience, where I was given ideas to expand my work. I am extremely grateful that I was given this great opportunity to participate and attend the AAAS Conference. Thank you Barrett and the Center of Biology and Society!"

Joe Carpenter

Joe Carpenter(poster pdf)
"AAAS was my first conference, and I think I picked a great one for it. I was inspired by professors working on "modern alchemy," cancer detection, improving graduate school, helping proposal writing, and laser scientists working with 1 sextrillionth of a second. Most meaningful to me were the tips I got for my project both on next steps and on presentation. A man working in thin film suggested how I could use something as simple as plastic wrap to extend my experiments with my ink-jet printed thin films. Thank you Barrett and SOLS for letting me partake of this experience."

Mayra Guzman

Mayra Guzman (poster pdf)
"Attending the AAAS conference was a great opportunity for me.  I got valuable input from researchers in my area of study from making my data more understandable to helping me think through my ideas.  The sessions were on a wide array of topics and even those that I watched on cancer addressed treatments options I have never heard before.  I was able to talk to other students who were also presenting posters on different areas of breast cancer.

Rebecca Halpin

Rebecca Halpin (poster pdf)
"Attending AAAS was an amazing experience and provided me with an opportunity to grow as scientist, student, and person. The daily seminars allowed me to delve deeper into subjects that I already had some knowledge of and begin accruing knowledge about subjects I had never even heard of, the student poster session provided me with the opportunity to assertively present my own research, and four days spent in Boston allowed me to experience the east coast culture and reminded me that those that work hard should also make time to play hard. Special thanks to my thesis director and research mentor, Dr. Chad Johnson, for encouraging me to participate in this opportunity and to both Barrett the Honors College and the Center of Biology and Society for making this trip possible."

Joseph Juliano

Joseph Juliano (poster pdf)
"I had a great experience at the 2013 AAAS conference. Thank you so much for the support from Barrett and the Center for Biology and Society for the opportunity to learn about research across so many different disciplines. I was able to come back from the experience filled with new insights I learned from other areas that I could apply to my own. Also, throughout the conference I was able to network with many other scientists, which was a terrific opportunity."

 

Devon Lathrop

Devon Lathrop (poster pdf)
"I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the AAAS conference in Boston this year. Speaking with both professional researchers and students who represented all areas of science was both rewarding and exciting because everyone was so passionate about their work. While presenting my poster, I was able to interact with people from various disciplines who provided stimulating discussions and asked thought-provoking  questions. It was a gratifying feeling to know that my research project was as interesting to others as it was to me! A huge thank you to the Center for Biology and Society and Barrett, the Honors College at ASU for awarding me this unforgettable experience."

Amanda Loh

Amanda Loh (poster pdf)
"Attending AAAS was a fantastically unique experience. I attended a lecture on The Bases of Human Language led by Steven Pinker. I explained my poster on the genetics of fish vaccine development to judges, all three of which had backgrounds in geology. And I listened to my peers present posters on everything from deriving mathematical models to predict ocean flow and algal growth to black widow spiders responding to urbanization in Phoenix. Few conferences can boast such a wide range of scientific topics explained by experts in the field yet tailored to the layperson. Thank you Barrett, for an incredibly enriching opportunity."

Christopher Luna

Christopher Luna (poster pdf) 
Winning poster in Math, Technology and Engineering 
"I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the AAAS 2013 annual meeting. I had never presented at a poster session, or attended a similar scientific conference, so it was almost a perceptual overload considering the fact that I had never been to the New England area either! I really enjoyed being able to attend lectures and network with professionals but, most of all, it was an absolute joy to present my poster at the session! I was admittedly a bit nervous, but once I got into the swing of things, I found it to be especially rewarding when people would ask questions and seem genuinely interested in my work. In closing, I would like to sincerely thank those at the Barrett Honors College, the people at the Center for Biology and Society, and my research mentor Dr. Wenbo Tang for making this conference a possibility for me!"

2012 AAAS Students

Natalie Antonios

Natalie Antonios (poster pdf)
"It was an honor to attend the 2012 AAAS conference in Vancouver! I attended numerous lectures touching on various aspects of science including discussions about the behavior of primates, the new age of birth control, innovative networks to effectively teach biology, and learning about cutting edge medical research and diagnostics. It was eye-opening to be surrounded by so many outstanding scientists who were passionate about their research, and so effective in communicating their work. That is what AAAS is all about--unifying the many disciplines of science, and sharing new information. It was such an incredible experience to be a part of this process."

Ross Bennett-Kennett

Ross Bennett-Kennett (poster pdf)
"The AAAS meeting provided a wonderful three-fold learning experience. The symposiums exposed me to the state of international research in my own field and on unrelated but interesting new topics; the poster presentation provided me with stimulating discussion that has forced me to be confident and clear about my own research, and the experience with my peers confirmed my expectations that ASU is filled with high caliber researchers who I would be honored to work with in the future. Thank you Barrett and the Center of Biology and Society for allowing me to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity."

Sean Poster

Sean Cohmer(poster pdf)
"The 2012 AAAS Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada was a tremendously influential opportunity for me and the rest of the twelve Arizona State University undergraduates who were able to attend. With generous support from the Center for Biology and Society and The Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, our experience at the conference was one that will resonate with us for some time. For me personally, despite having many previous opportunities to communicate in a professional setting, this was my first experience with an international science conference."

Joseph Flay and Daniel Garry

Joseph Flay (pictured), Madeline Grade, Daniel Garry (pictured), Ryan Muller (poster pdf) 
"The highly expansive and interdisciplinary nature of modern-day science is no more apparent than at the AAAS annual meeting. At this year’s annual meeting I helped present our group’s poster, conversed with knowledgeable scientists, experienced thought-provoking paradigm shifts, and enjoyed a vast array of lectures ranging from chemical evolution to molecular motors to quantum computing. I am truly grateful to have been a part of this unique experience made possible by the Center for Biology and Society, The Barrett Honors College, and the Undergraduate Student Government and I hope to participate again in future years." Ryan Muller

Grade Poster

Madeline Grade (pictured), Joseph Flay, Daniel Garry, Ryan Muller (poster pdf)
"The AAAS Conference was fantastic! Thank you so much to Barrett and The Center for Biology and Society for the opportunity to learn about research across all disciplines of science. Attending lectures and speaking with researchers both within and outside my areas of expertise was incredibly enriching." Madeline Grade

Juliano poster

Joseph D. Juliano (pictured), Stephanie Munson, Jacey Schnorr, John Nagy(poster pdf)
AAAS was an incredibly exciting and insightful opportunity. I had the chance to have my work critiqued from scientists across all disciplines and have come back with new ideas and avenues to test. Not only was I able to improve my own research, but also I formed contacts and networked with professors from universities all across the United States."  Joseph Juliano

Michael Kenney

Michael J. Kenney (poster pdf)
"Attending the AAAS meeting was a terrific experience. I was able to hear lectures on everything from attosecond pulse lasers to the large hadron collider. Also, the opportunity to talk with other scientists about my work was very rewarding."

Michelle Schmoker

Michelle K. Schmoker, (pictured) Elizabeth M. Cook, Stephanie Amaru(poster pdf)
"I was honored to represent ASU at the AAAS conference this year. Not only did my peers and I get to enjoy the gorgeous city of Vancouver, but we were also given a fantastic opportunity to present our research to an international audience. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I give my sincerest thanks to the Center for Biology and Society for supporting my attendance." Michelle Schmoker

Erika Warkus

Erica Warkus(poster pdf)

Betsy Yockey

Elizabeth Yockey
"My participation in the student poster competition at AAAS afforded me the opportunity to receive invaluable feedback from professors at other universities. It also allowed me to travel to a foreign city and have an amazing experience. This trip was one of the key events that majorly enhanced my undergraduate education. This wonderful event has allowed me to refine and reflect on my undergraduate education as well as to develop new ideas for potential graduate projects, an opportunity I would not have been able to have without the generous support from the Center for Biology and Society, the people in the Center, Barrett, and Section L of AAAS. This wonderfully rich interdisciplinary meeting afforded me knowledge as I have never experienced."

2011 AAAS Students

Trent Bowen

Trent Bowen (poster pdf) 
Poster Competition Honorable Mention: Social Sciences category
"Huge thanks to the Center for Biology and Society and The Barrett Honors College for the enriching opportunity to both attend and present a poster at the AAAS conference! I enjoyed receiving valuable feedback about my research from talking to other students and professors. Plus, I attended a handful of seminars presenting interesting science topics across a realm of disciplines."

Jennifer Gamboa

Jennifer Gamboa
"The AAAS conference was a great scientific experience. I attended lectures of many notable scientists and learned a lot about topics related to my research interests. It also gave me the opportunity to discuss my research with other scientists and learn from the suggestions."

Daniel Garry

Daniel Garry (poster pdf)
"I had a great time at the AAAS meeting. I was completely free to go to a number of interesting lectures across all the scientific disciplines and I enjoyed presenting my poster while at the same time seeing the work done by other undergraduates from all across the country.”

Kim Kukurba

Kimberly Kukurba 
Poster Competition Winner: Tied first place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category
"The AAAS Annual Meeting was an incredible opportunity to present my research and learn from scientists in the forefront of their field. I gained invaluable experience presenting my undergraduate research project to a broad international audience and received great feedback from other students and professionals. In addition, the "Science Without Borders" theme of the conference ensured that I was exposed to a wide range of topics beyond the scope of my personal interests. I'm grateful that the Barrett Honors College and Center for Biology and Society provided this opportunity!”

Catherine May

Catherine May (poster pdf)
"A profound thing happened to me at the AAAS meetings. As I began to explore a variety of interdisciplinary lectures, I began to see a common thread, underlying the sciences. The prospect of a new area of research using "Virtual Synthetic Biology" conjured up excitement and unbridled creativity. As I began thinking about the possibility for a new age of collaboration, using a open-source interdisciplinary repository, which may increase communication between the disciplines and begin to unite the various sciences."

Aida Mahammadreza

Aida Mohammadreza (poster pdf)
Poster Competition Winner: Tied first place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category
“Going to the conference was a spectacular experience! As a session aide, I had the opportunity to network with scientists and professors from around the country during the topical lectures. The specialized seminars also demonstrated the benefits of combining science and engineering in order to solve problems. The poster competition was great way to meet students doing research in various disciplines. It was very exciting to talk and learn from students who were interested in the same field of research as I was! I loved traveling with my peers and discussing our intense judging sessions and presentations. It was an unforgettable trip.”

Kathyrn Scheckel

Kathryn Scheckel (poster pdf)
“Attending the prestigious 2011 AAAS Conference provided me with the ability to hear from some of the most exciting and fascinating researchers from across the country, as well as to gain valuable experience presenting my own research and engaging in productive and insightful discussions about my work with other visiting professors. This opportunity will be invaluable to me in my future graduate endeavors.”

Danielle Shaffer

Danielle Shaffer (poster pdf)
"Coming from the background of sustainability where interdisciplinary research is highly encouraged, AAAS was a wonderful experience to not only become informed about how other fields are integrating sustainability into their work but also having the opportunity to talk one-on-one with these experts. I was energized and inspired at the conference by the enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge that everyone displayed. It is an experience I am thankful for and will never forget!”

Hansa Thompson

Hansa Thompson (poster pdf)
Poster Competition Honorable Mention: Medicine & Public Health category
"The world today is increasingly revolving around communication and new ideas. Appropriately, this year's AAAS conference, themed "Science Without Borders", brought together scientists from around the world with expertise in subjects that I've never heard of. I am extremely thankful to the various groups within ASU that allowed for this opportunity to go to Washington D.C.”

Erica Warkus

Erica Warkus (poster pdf)
Poster Competition Honorable Mention: Environment & Ecology category
"My experience at AAAS 2011 was amazing and completely beyond the scope of what I expected. I was given the opportunity to listen to the forefronts of current research in all fields of science, and later I had the chance to talk with the researchers in person. The experience broadened my understanding of the possibilities available when problems are examined from a variety of ways of thinking.”

EricaONeil

Graduate Student Poster Participant
Erica O'Neil (poster pdf)
“Attending the annual AAAS conference in Washington, D.C., was an enriching opportunity that allowed me to participate and observe the scientific community at a national level. Working as a session aide presented an excellent opportunity to network with academic professionals and other students. It also allowed me to participate in the AAAS student poster competition, which was an edifying experience from both a personal and professional standpoint. I would highly recommend the AAAS to any science-minded student! The interdisciplinarity and breadth of the seminars really helped to refine my own research interests as a graduate student in Biology and Society.”

2010 AAAS Students

 AAAS 2010 Participants

Ellen Dupont

Ellen Dupont (poster pdf)
"The AAAS conference was like Christmas in February! With sessions on everything from astronomy to zoology, there was something for everyone. Presenting my own research was an edifying experience (and not a bad résumé-builder either), but every aspect of the trip was a success. San Diego was beautiful, the AAAS meeting and sessions were fascinating, the hotel was perfect, and the group of ASU students, staff, and faculty made the trip both informative and, more importantly, fun! Needless to say, I had an amazing time."

Lauren Imbornoni

Lauren Imbornoni (poster pdf)
Awarded the AAAS Poster Competition Honorable Mention in the Developmental Biology, Physiology, and Immunology category
"The AAAS Conference was an amazing opportunity to meet other students, learn about their research, and share my own research. I enjoyed attending the seminars, especially working as a session aid, which gave me a chance to meet and speak with the presenters beforehand. The Center for Biology and Society did a great job planning and organizing this trip and I’m grateful that I had the chance to go!.”

Allyn Knox

Allyn Knox (poster pdf)
Awarded the AAAS Poster Competition Honorable Mention in the Social Services category
"Going to AAAS was an amazing experience. The talks were interesting; presenting my poster and getting feedback was constructive and gave me direction for my thesis. Finally, I got to know some amazing peers whom I would not otherwise know, even though we have class together.”

Josh Niska

Josh Niska (poster pdf)
"Without the support of the Center for Biology and Society, I would not have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in an international meeting of the magnitude and scope of the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting. Everyone with whom I spoke at the Student Poster Competition provided great feedback on my research; I even met two journalists from Italy who would like to publish my work in their magazine!”

 Sam Philbrick

Samuel Philbrick (poster pdf)
"Seeing the research of prominent scientists and having my own work held up to the scrutiny of professionals and students challenged me to think about how to further develop my thesis. It was great getting to know so many other students from ASU and across the country who enjoy science and research!”

 Jose Rios

Jose Rios (poster pdf)
Winner AAAS Poster Competition in Math, Technology and Engineering
“Being able to talk to people during the poster presentation helped me understand my research even better. The questions from people made me think about things that I had not thought of before. Also, networking with people that are part of other ASU programs was very enjoyable.”

Annie Zhu

Tian (Annie) Zhu (poster pdf)
“This was the first international conference I have attended, and it was one of the most eye-opening and humbling experiences I ever had. At this conference, I attended a number of symposiums given by those at the forefront of their fields, and kept me captivated in subjects I previously did not give a second thought to when they were taught in my undergraduate classes. I also had the opportunity to speak with various other students from universities across the country, and several scientists well experienced in their fields who came to the conference to speak about their research. The highlight of this conference was when I was able to talk about my thesis project with Francis Collins, the Director of the NIH!”

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson (poster unavailable pending publication)
"Attending the AAAS annual meeting allowed me to experience science at its highest level. It was great to have the opportunity to hear presentations from and network with scientists who are among the best in their field on a national or often global scale. Being exposed to a wide range of scientific fields beyond the scope of my personal research interests has given me the opportunity to draw connections between a number of scientific fields that I had never seen before.”

Graduate Student Poster Participants

Cera Lawrence

Cera Lawrence (poster pdf)
“I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to attend the biggest science conference in the United States with not only the support of my department, but with a cohort of faculty, colleagues, and students. Being a session aide allowed me to attend presentations on current developments in science education and speak with scientists and professionals in the field, which has informed the direction of my thesis research. Learning how to take advantage of collegiality this early in my career is an enormous benefit. Plus, it was wicked fun.”

Katherine Liu

Katherine Liu (poster pdf)
"Attending the AAAS Annual Meeting was a great opportunity to not only hear about new and exciting topics of research but also for networking with experts in any given field of study. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to engage in conversations about my thesis and other academic interests with researchers from a diversity of intellectual backgrounds. The interdisciplinarity and internationality of this meeting truly results in a unique and academically stimulating environment. I appreciate the support of the Center for Biology and Society, ASU School of Life Sciences, and AAAS Section L.”

Faculty Advisors

Jane Maienschein
Director, Center for Biology and Society

Margaret Nelson
Vice Dean, Barrett, the Honors College
Term: 1998 -2018

Laura Popova
Honors Faculty Fellow, Barrett, the Honors College

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