TriBeta poster session features student research

By TRISHA PARAYIL | May 2, 2019

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Mickey Sloat presents her research at TriBeta poster session.

Effective communication is one of the hallmarks of scientific research. In light of this, the Rho Psi chapter of the Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) National Biological Honor Society hosted a poster session on Friday. Students majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Hopkins had the opportunity to present their research to their peers.

The student researchers presented independent research projects. The News-Letter had the opportunity to speak with some of the presenters. One of the presenters, senior John Kim, joined Gabsang Lee’s lab in the School of Medicine during his freshman year. He spent his first couple of semesters learning techniques which he eventually used when pursuing his own project. He has since been involved with multiple projects, presenting one of his newer ones at the TriBeta session.

Often, researchers publish articles in journals and present at seminars which have audiences with an extensive scientific background. Sophomore Mickey Sloat noted that a poster session is one way to make science more accessible to the public, and there were people with a range of knowledge in attendance.

However, describing a research project to a layperson with a fleeting scientific background may prove a challenge for researchers. Distilling a scientific project while avoiding over-simplification is a skill that comes with practice.

On the other hand, discussing a project with students who understand the scientific background of the project has its perks. Sloat said that some students recognized elements of her research from their classes.

“It is cool to see that what we are learning directly interacts and intersects with what we are studying,” Sloat said.

Junior Hanna Hong, vice president of TriBeta, presented a project that she has been researching since sophomore year. One of her motivations to present was to fulfill a requirement to graduate with honors, as students who want to earn a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology with honors have to present their independent research as a part of a seminar or poster session.

“I wanted to present my research not only because it is one of the requirements for an honors in the Biology major, but also because I did really want to show the work that I’ve been doing,” Hong said.

Another presenter, junior Sweta Sudhir, recently spoke about her project at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual conference. She wanted to present at the TriBeta session to connect with other Hopkins students.

“The Hopkins community fostered my research and propelled me on that path, so I wanted to see what my peers are doing around here and share my excitement for my research,” Sudhir said. “This was the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Unlike seminars or talks, poster sessions provide a unique space for discussion between a researcher and their audience. In some instances, it is a chance for the researchers to receive suggestions from their audience, which was the case for Sloat. 

“I came partly to start a dialogue because I am at a stalling point on my research and I’ve got to get over a hurdle so I’m hoping people can help me,” Sloat said. 

“I’ve presented [my research] at a different session and it helped me to clarify what the problem is.”

Michelle Chiu, co-president of the chapter who helped to organize the event, was pleased with the outcome. 

“It was an enjoyable event to host and we are super glad that students, both in TriBeta and out, were able to attend and listen to the amazing poster presentations,” Chiu said. 

The TriBeta poster session is one of many sessions organized at Hopkins. Most science and social science departments, as well as many honor societies, host poster sessions throughout the semester. On April 5, the Hopkins Office for Undergraduate Research (HOUR) hosted DREAMS, which is one of the largest poster sessions on campus. 

Discoveries are happening all over the Hopkins campus, and many undergraduates are involved in research work. Those who want to catch a last glimpse of some research projects before the summer can attend the first annual student poster session on Diversity & Inclusion hosted by the Diversity Leadership Council on May 15.

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