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Young Scientists Congregate in D.C. To Display Research Findings

Hundreds of students and postdoctoral fellows will talk about their work, why it matters

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There's no shortage of academics, politicians and policy wonks eager to publicly share their opinions about funding the nation's scientific enterprise, about which avenues of research are yielding promising results and about how to inspire youngsters to pursue studies and careers in science. But less often do we hear from the next generation of researchers who will in the not-too-distant future be heading up laboratories and institutes around the world, searching for long-elusive cures and envisioning therapies so creative that they today sound pretty far out.

This weekend, those young researchers will have a forum, and they have a lot to say.

As part of the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting running Saturday, April 9, through Wednesday, April 13, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers will showcase what they've been doing at the bench and in the field and why it matters.

On Saturday, 258 undergrads will proudly display posters that highlight their findings at an event sponsored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. For many of them, it'll be the first time they've attended a professional conference. Some will have traveled just across town; while others will have come from across the globe. For a lucky few, it'll be a chance to rub elbows with – and try to impress – the pioneers of their chosen fields.

For first-generation college student Casey J. McCormick, who is now a senior at Tennessee Tech University, the event represents an opportunity to share how K-12 outreach projects he coordinated exposed young members of his small community to campus life and scientific research and taught his college classmates professional skills they'll need in the future.

McCormick says he hopes getting the word out about which outreach models have been successful for his team will inspire and better prepare other young researchers who want to make a difference in the lives of young people in their communities.

"Research on science, technology, engineering and math education is very important, because one of the major concerns among our nation's scientists is that America is falling behind in the standards we implement for those topics in the secondary schools," McCormick says. "Our group continues to look at ways that we can enrich the experience of the students in the public secondary schools in our area.  I attended a high school that was economically challenged and understand the need for enrichment activities, and this is why I am committed to researching what types of outreach modes can make the most difference in our area, especially for those regions that are economically challenged."  

Three-fourths of the undergrad poster presenters will compete for cash prizes. The judging begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in Room 209A/B of the conference center.

Twenty-one of the undergraduate competitors with outstanding projects and personal statements and 95 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows were awarded travel stipends by ASBMB.

One of the undergraduate winners, Justin Garoutte, is a 20-year-old biochemistry major and German minor from Antonito, Colo., a small town in the San Luis Valley. He'll be traveling to the D.C. meeting from the University of Goettingen in Germany, where he is studying abroad, to present RNA research he conducted at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Garoutte's work also will be featured on Wednesday, April 13, as part of the Council on Undergraduate Research's 2011 "Posters on the Hill" event, which is aimed at bringing members of Congress and students face to face to demonstrate the importance and impact of undergraduate research.

"I look forward to meeting researchers from around the world. So much new knowledge in one place -- now that's exciting," Garoutte said.

Garoutte's work also will be featured on Wednesday, April 13, as part of the Council on Undergraduate Research's 2011 "Posters on the Hill" event, which is aimed at bringing members of Congress and students face to face to demonstrate the importance and impact of undergraduate research.

Phillip A. Ortiz, a professor at Empire State College, part of the State University of New York system, who helped select the ASBMB travel stipend winners, said the competition is one of the highlights of his year: "I become energized by the students: Their research is highly laudable, and their enthusiasm is contagious."

The other members of the selection committee were Kathleen Cornely of Providence College and Mark Wallert of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

About Experimental Biology 2011

Experimental Biology is an annual gathering of six scientific societies that this year is expected to draw 13,000-plus independent scientists and exhibitors. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a co-sponsor of the meeting, along with the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

More information about EB2011 for the media can be found on the press page: http://experimentalbiology.org/content/PressInformation.aspx.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.  For more information about ASBMB, visit www.asbmb.org.      

ONSITE NEWSROOM
Walter E. Washington
Convention Center
April 9-April 13, 2011
Phone: 202.249.4010
Media@FASEB.org

Angela Hopp
Cell: 713.471.4541
Office: 301.634.7389
ahopp@asbmb.org

SOURCE American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology



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