COSAM News Articles 2022 March Students explore research opportunities at COSAM Undergraduate Research Fair

Students explore research opportunities at COSAM Undergraduate Research Fair

Published: 03/01/2022

By: Leslie Leak

The Office of Student Services in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) held its 4th annual Undergraduate Research Fair on Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Auburn University Student Center Ballroom. 

This year, 21 research labs, spanning a wide range of studies across eight departments at Auburn University, were showcased at the fair. 

Anna Traylor, Academic Advisor in COSAM’s Office of Student Services, stated, “Our goal in hosting the research fair is for undergraduate students to learn more about available research opportunities and to start thinking about what research areas may interest them most. Having multiple research labs at the fair is an easy way to connect students to labs, which hopefully eliminates some of the initial stress for students seeking research opportunities.” 

Natalia Malina, a postdoctoral fellow representing Ann Ojeda’s Auburn Contaminants Group in the Department of Geosciences, discussed the research focus of their lab. “We study the contamination of water and how this connects to human health issues, essentially connecting life and the environment,” said Malina. “In our lab, undergraduate students have an opportunity to assist graduate students with various projects, and research credit hours are supported.”

Lovely Mae Lawas, a postdoctoral fellow representing Courtney Leisner’s Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, said their lab, which studies plants and their response to environmental stresses, has several project opportunities for undergraduate students. “We have already had seven undergraduate students in the lab and really value their help with experiments,” said Lawas. Currently, the Leisner Lab has projects investigating climate change and stress impacts in blueberry, potato, cotton, pepper and soybean. 

COSAM Undergraduate Research Ambassadors Dory Fawwal and Dylan Warner were at the fair assisting students with questions about research and providing helpful tips on finding research opportunities. Fawwal, a senior majoring in Microbial, Cellular & Molecular Biology (Microbiology Option), and Warner, a senior majoring in Microbial, Cellular & Molecular Biology (Molecular Biology Option), explained the importance of finding undergraduate research opportunities early and the value in making those connections.

“It’s never too early to start exploring research possibilities and decide on something you are passionate about studying,” said Fawwal. “Also, the longer you are in a research program, it may lead to opportunities such as undergraduate research fellowships or other connections through networking.”

“I’ve made so many connections through my research,” said Warner. “We, as Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, are here to facilitate those connections between students and labs, hopefully making the process easier on students.”

Students who were unable to attend the research fair are encouraged to reach out to the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors at They have office hours that are available to students to discuss future research opportunities. 

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