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Virtual Format, Same Great Event: Student Research Conference set for April 17


By Mark Kramer

Since the University of Houston-Downtown Scholars Academy’s Student Research Conference (SRC) began in 2001, the event has become a spring tradition highlighting undergraduate studies involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics related disciplines (STEM).

And now this year’s conference has a different twist as the 19th annual event goes virtual.

Live video streaming of the event begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 17. To view the event, you must register here.

Students from the College of Sciences & Technology, the College of Public Service, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Marilyn Davies College of Business and University College will all be represented at the conference and are presenting their research projects.

“Many universities hold college events, but few hold university-wide research conference events,” said Dr. Mary Jo Parker, director of the UHD Scholars Academy. “We want to promote the goals of research, which is to create new ideas, generate new innovations and share this new knowledge with others in the profession.”

Highlighting the conference will be keynote speakers UHD Alumni Dr. Karina Vazquez-Arreguin and Dr. Antonio Tito. Arreguin currently serves as a post-doctoral fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Tito is the president and founder of KaiGenix, Inc., which specializes in technology for the medical industry.

Arreguin earned her bachelors degree in Mircobiology from UHD in 2010 and her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Utah. At the conference, she will share her insight on the importance of undergraduate research and how it influenced her in exploring cures for cancer.

Tito earned his bachelors in Biotechnology from UHD in 2008 and then earned his masters and doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston. He also conducted his post-doctoral research at UTHealth. Tito will speak about how he translated his biomedical research into his own business.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work directly with both of these research scientists,” Parker said. “They both have very distinctive paths they have taken in their research careers and I know they will share exciting messages of how they came from humble beginnings and created their own pathways to success.”

The conference also features oral presentations from students across all disciplines. In past conferences, students presented research on topics ranging from plastic degradation and nuclear piping, to bat invasion and food service quality and satisfaction.

Parker said another group of students will showcase their research work during a poster presentation featuring their topics.

“Extensive efforts go into the creation of every poster,” she said. “Students generally will work for one summer or one to two semesters under the guidance of a faculty mentor in the lab, testing their results multiple times. “The students have always shown professionalism and attention to detail in these presentations and it’s exciting to see the culmination of the hard work that they have put into their research projects.”

Parker said the conference is critically important to understand how vital application of knowledge becomes in connecting to the professional world.

“This event gives students the opportunity to show their understanding of what they have learned in the classroom and how it can be readily seen in their work in the research lab,” she said. “This acquired knowledge will guide them as they enter graduate studies or the workforce.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.