GVSU students to showcase original research at cell and molecular biology symposium

Drew Schertzer

Cell and molecular biology (CMB) seniors are preparing to present their final projects to the Grand Valley State University community. Some seniors have been preparing their work since their freshman year at GVSU.

The CMB department has planned for the symposium to take place during three sessions over two days at the P. Douglas Kindschi Hall of Science. The event, “II Annual Cell & Molecular Biology Symposium,” will take place Friday, March 24, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“It’s a huge learning experience to learn how the research world works,” said Jonathon Richards, one of the presenters. “It will show how much work people put into their research, and observers can learn bountiful amounts.”

Richards has been working on his research on Drosophila flies since 2014. His research will be about correlations between telomere length and how long the flies live with different lengths. Richards hopes his research can be juxtaposed with humans and that by applying a similar principle, humans can one day make the aging process more enjoyable.

The three sessions are separated by categories. Researchers like Richards are under cell division and will present Friday. The second session Saturday will feature antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases. The third and final session will focus on protein-protein interactions followed by gene expression.

CMB professor Agnieszka Szarecka expressed her pride in her students. She said the opportunity to present research would be an invaluable experience different from what students typically get sitting in a classroom. Many of her students have presented their research at national or international conferences, like presenter Zachary Klamer.

Szarecka said the researchers have formulated research questions, involved themselves in experiments and have collected data to turn into posters to present. She thinks attendees can learn a vast amount from the presentations beyond just information.

“I think it would be great encouragement for other students to get similar experience,” Szarecka said. “They can see how much fun it is to be involved and to do something not yet done by anyone else.”

Szarecka has been one of the main organizers for the symposium. She thinks the main goal behind the event is to provide students with experience doing what they will one day be doing as part of their careers. She said the symposium would provide excellent research practice for students interested in pursuing graduate school or related professional work. She said the presenters were training with scientists, doing active research in labs and trying to solve questions that didn’t have answers at the end of a book.

The first session on cell division will have six speakers over three hours. After each topic is presented, there will be a break and conversation between the researchers and the audience. The following day, there will be seven speakers for the second session, followed by another conversational talk and a lunch. The last session Saturday will pick up after the lunch and will have six speakers over another few hours.

Attendees need to register for the symposium beforehand. For more information, contact Szarecka at [email protected]