COSAM Hosts First Undergraduate Research Fair
Students of the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) recently had the opportunity to showcase their undergraduate research work during the first ever COSAM Undergraduate Research Fair.
The event took place on Nov. 2 in the Auburn University Student Center and was born out of an idea that recent COSAM graduate Hudson Holmes had.
Holmes became a Research Ambassador during his senior year and represented the ambassadors during a COSAM leadership summit. The goal of the summit was to find ways for COSAM organizations to come together to form initiatives to promote inclusion and diversity within the college.
“I realized that I had a unique opportunity to fulfill this mission because I represented the common ground that unites all COSAM students; a passion and admiration for the beauty of science,” Holmes said. “Finding common ground provides an opportunity to bring groups together who are seemingly different at surface level.”
Holmes, who took time out of his schedule as a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine to act as a judge during the research fair, added that he believes that the students of COSAM are very diverse and that is a fact that should be celebrated.
“By uniting students through a research fair that intrigued their scientific curiosity, we were able to demonstrate just how diverse the college really is,” Holmes said.
Katy Crider, academic advisor in the COSAM Office of Student Services, founded the Research Ambassadors program and appointed Holmes as the first Research Ambassador. She believed his idea to have a COSAM undergraduate research fair was a great idea. The current Research Ambassadors helped organize the event.
“We have so many students in COSAM that are doing research, and a large majority of them are required to do research, that we thought this was a really good opportunity for those students,” Crider said. “It will give them something great to put on their resume, give them practice for if they want to move on to larger university-wide research fair, This is Research … those were the two biggest things for us.”
Thirteen students participated in the first COSAM Undergraduate Research Fair, showcasing research that ranged from climate change effects on species to sterilizing space crafts. To be considered to participate, the students were required to submit a 250 word abstract containing research information, goals, findings, or projected findings. They were also required to be in at least their second semester of research.
Seven judges critiqued the research and judged the students on their introduction, content, visual aids, presentation style, conclusions, and responses to questions and comments.
Two second-place prizes and one first-place prize were awarded at the end of the event. Geoffrey Harrison, whose research was titled “A Direct Algorithm for Velocity-map Imaging Systems (DAVIS)” and Faith Anderson, whose research was titled “Hydrogen Peroxide Delays the Reproduction an Escherichia coli-specific bacteriophage, PF-2,” were both awarded second-place prizes. Zahra Hooda, whose research was titled, “Understanding Splenic Responses to Sympathetic Nervous System Activity and Salt Intake in ETB-Deficient Rats in the Development of Hypertension,” was awarded the first-place prize.
The winners received a certificate and a cash prize.
COSAM Biological Sciences Chair and Professor Scott Santos awarded the prizes to the students and said he saw an impressive range of research across the different departments within COSAM.
“Having myself gone through undergraduate research many moons ago, I say to all of you that you are doing a phenomenal job and this should help position you for a great graduate career and eventually a great academic career, if that’s what you chose to do,” Santos said to the students. “If you don’t, undergraduate research will always position you very well for any other aspect that you want to follow in life.”
Crider said she plans to help host the Undergraduate Research Fair each year. Holmes added that the research fair was better than he imagined.
“That is, in no small part, due to the hard work of Mrs. Katy Crider and the current COSAM Research Ambassadors,” he said. “It was deeply encouraging to see so many members of the COSAM family come together as one, united by common, albeit diverse, interests!”