Accompanied by chemistry faculty Professor Walter Bowyer, Professor Erin Pelkey and Assistant Professor Kristin Slade, seven students attended the one-day event offering an approachable forum for undergraduates from area universities and colleges to showcase their work and develop academic relationships.
Following presentations and discussions by Binghamton students and faculty during the conference’s morning session, the afternoon poster sessions saw Charmaine Chung ’19 and Kelsey Pierce ’20 earn a conference award for their presentation. Based on their summer research project conducted with Slade and Jasmine Jackson ’20, their talk described creating a laboratory model to mimic the crowding that occurs inside living cells to better understand how this crowding affects enzymes, such as yeast alcohol dehydrogenase.
“One of the biggest lessons that I learned during the research was not to rush the process. It takes time not only to collect enough data to have a representative sample size, but also to perfect the techniques used,” says Pierce. “Most importantly, I learned not to get discouraged if the result wasn’t what was hypothesized — these unexpected results often lead to new questions and some of the most interesting experiments.”
Pierce’s first experience presenting scholarship “gave a new perspective on our data and future experimental ideas that could be conducted to possibly answer our ongoing questions.”
Slade says that conferences “are important because they give students an opportunity to present their research and communicate with other scientists. In my experience, going to a conference often energizes students because they see that research and science in general, is so much bigger than just our lab. Rather it is an interconnected network.”
And with local conferences, she says, “we can give students at least exposure to other research that is out there at a fraction of the cost [of national conferences].”
Marissa McFadden ’19, Roslyn Patel ’20, Jonathan Thrall ’19 and Nate Webster ’19 also shared their work, bolstered by research and analysis from other chemistry students and from Pelkey. Their presentations focused on developing synthetic methodology that can be used to prepare small molecules that have anti-cancer activity.
Pelkey says that “the students and I enjoyed visiting and getting to know some of the faculty and students from the chemistry department at SUNY-Binghamton,” where they were able to visit campus facilities with their counterparts and hear about “some exciting research.”
Sophia Shaw ’21, who conducted summer research with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Josh Newby, also attended the conference.