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Science, Math, Engineering Projects Showcased

Summer Research Symposium Promotes STEM Studies

Aug. 15, 2013

Conrad Spargur of Santiago Canyon College and a student in the Strengthening Transfer Education and Matriculation in STEM program, explains his research on cogged stones of Southern California.

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For Santa Ana College student Hien Huynh, working this summer inside the lab of Nikolas Nikolaidis on research to determine how different species and populations, including humans, cope and respond to stress and adapt to environmental changes and diseases, was exciting and eye opening.

"I had no idea how to do this kind of research; I learned many new things," said Huynh, who is studying biochemistry and math.

Huynh was among 73 community college and high school students and Cal State Fullerton undergrads who shared their projects at the recent 2nd annual College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Summer Research Symposium.

Students spent the summer learning in the labs of science, math and engineering faculty members in efforts to introduce and encourage college studies and careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

Robert A. Koch, acting dean of the college, addressed students and parents, stating that undergraduate research experiences are critical to STEM majors earning a degree.

"Research itself is an essential element of becoming a scientist and a practitioner of the STEM disciplines," said Koch. "We know that undergraduate research is a high impact activity that influences the success of students. There is a nearly threefold increase in the likelihood of graduating in five years if a student participates in undergraduate research."

Huynh, who participated in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Research Experience, explored whether the presence or absence of particular heat-shock genes results in differences on how fruit files respond to stress and disease, explained Nikolaidis, assistant professor of biological science and her research mentor. Her data revealed specific differences that may be related with the ability to cope with stress.

"Fruit flies have been used for several decades as model species for cancer and cardiovascular disease. As such, fruit flies research is extremely important and valuable," Nikolaidis said.

The symposium also featured students and their work from the following summer research programs: Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program, California State University Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center, Minority Access to Research Careers, Southern California Ecosystems Research Program, Strengthening Transfer Education and Matriculation in STEM and Summer Research Program in Mathematics.

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research