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SIUE Student Scientists Strong STEM Symposium Showing
Illinois Ag Connection - 03/25/2020

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville chemistry and biological sciences students displayed their prowess in scientific research when they attended the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) 2020 Spring Symposium in STEM in Lisle. Of the 17 SIUE students who attended, 10 presented their research and two, seniors Jochabay McGeeBey and Jordan Robinson, earned awards.

"The symposium provides students with an opportunity to present their work in a professional conference setting," said Myron Jones, PhD, Department of Chemistry associate professor and LSAMP program coordinator. "They have opportunities to network with students from a variety of other institutions, attend keynote addresses related to the conference theme, 'Building an Inclusive STEM Future,' and take part in professional development opportunities in breakout discussion sessions."

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the LSAMP program works to increase recruitment, retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The SIUE LSAMP program is affiliated with the Illinois alliance based at Chicago State University. The program provides SIUE students with research stipends, funds for supplies and the opportunity to take advantage of tutoring and academic mentoring. It also covers the costs of attending the annual symposium and, for some students, attending and presenting at other conferences, as well.

Jones coordinates the SIUE LSAMP program along with Department of Chemistry Assistant Professor Michael Hankins, PhD, and Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Danielle Lee, PhD.

Most students who participate in the LSAMP program are enrolled in undergraduate research courses or are participating in the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) program at SIUE. The students worked with their research mentors over several months to prepare their high-quality research projects for the LSAMP Symposium.

Months of hard work paid off for the SIUE students who presented at the conference, but particularly for McGeeBey and Robinson. McGeeBey earned third place in chemistry for her research, "PCR Overlap Extension: A versatile method to introduce new genes to yeast," which she carried out with fellow students Kelly Kyle and Stephanie Shan under the mentorship of Department of Chemistry Assistant Professor Monica Rieth, PhD.

Robinson placed second in molecular biology for her research, "Evaluating bacteria-bacteria competition as a means of symbiont-meditated pathogen protection in termites," which she completed with Alexis Acoff under the mentorship of Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Brittany Peterson, PhD.

"This was the first conference I've ever attended, so I never thought that I would place! I was extremely nervous about presenting my research, but it was amazing to be able to explain my ideas to people from all backgrounds of STEM," said Robinson. "I enjoyed being in an environment of so many minority students, who were able to share their ideas to rooms full of their peers--rooms full of people who look like them. That is not something we get to be part of every day, since there are only a handful of minority students in STEM."

Symposium Attendees:

Alexis Acoff, of Fairview Heights, senior

Darzanae Crite, of Kankakee, senior*

Naseem Dove, of Cordova, Tenn., junior

Kennedy Epps, of Belleville, senior*

Taylor Ewing, of Florissant, Mo., junior

Dalia Hassan, of Springfield, senior*

Youssef Hassan, of Springfield, senior*

Jayda Hatten, of Florissant, Mo., senior*

Andres Mancilla, of St. Louis, senior*

Jochabay McGeeBey, of East St. Louis, senior*

Kevin Peoples, of Chicago, junior

Dakarai Pleasant, of Effingham, senior*

David Robinson, of Florissant, Mo., senior

Jordan Robinson, of Florrisant, Mo, senior*

Jasmin Ruiz, of Granite City, senior*

Eno Obong Blessing Udoh, of Ota, Nigeria, sophomore

Daria Whitted, of Flossmoor, senior

* Presented research at the Symposium.

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