09:09 AM

CST Trip to New York City Introduces Students to Top Scientists, Variety of Science Careers

A group of 11 students from UHD's College of Sciences and Technology recently visited New York City to learn from world-class scientists and researchers on a variety of scientific fields and careers.

The undergraduates - along with CST Dean Akif Uzman and Associate Professors Jerry Johnson and Lisa Morano - spent the first day of the trip touring science labs at New York University (NYU) and interacting with scientists, whose research the students had studied prior to the trip. The students also had lunch with current NYU graduate students to learn first-hand about graduate school.

The UHD group then spent a day at the New York Botanical Gardens, the largest institution of its kind in North America, home to more than 8 million pressed plant specimens. During the visit, the students visited the facility's rare book room - home to antique books on plants published before Linnaeus developed the modern system for botanical nomenclature in the 18th century. The students also toured a research lab, sponsored by Pfizer, where scientists study the biochemistry and molecular genetics of plants, including those with potential medicinal properties.

The following day, the students toured the American Museum of Natural History, which hosts the only doctoral program in the nation housed within a museum. The students were treated to a tour of the facility by recent UHD alumnus Adolfo Lara, who is completing his first year of graduate school at the museum. The students viewed biodiversity studies in the facility's molecular labs, and toured the museum's invertebrate collection and "big bone room," home to original dinosaur bones, unlike replicas often on display in museums.

"This fantastic trip allows students to see the world outside of Houston and learn about potential scientific careers - at all degree levels - waiting for them after graduation," said Morano, chair of the Department of Natural Sciences. "From listening to lead scientists to interacting with current graduate students, UHD students come away with a new appreciation for the many possibilities science offers."

On the final day of the trip, the students toured the Statue of Liberty and Times Square as a group, and then enjoyed several hours of free time to explore New York City.

UHD students must apply for this annual trip and write an essay on how the experience would contribute to their future career goals.

The following UHD students attended the spring trip: Ashish Ojha, Crystal Smith, Elsy Rivera, Erika Flores, Esmeralda Martinez, Isaac Valdez, Jacob Rodriguez, Lea Means, Reihana Abdelmaksoud, Reyna Valdez and Victor Akhanov.

"Before this trip, I had the conception that careers in the science field were mainly limited to laboratory research or medical school," said one student participant. "Hearing the talks from scientists at the American Museum of Natural History made me realize that I was missing the most obvious key point: science is not about reading and memorizing textbooks, it is about formulating questions with an attempt to find the answer. The anthropological studies we heard about reminded me that, although science has come a long way, there is still much left unknown that we have yet to discover."

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