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Blinn students selected to present original research at world’s largest chemistry conference

Students represent Blinn at American Chemical Society National Meeting

April 12, 2016

Ten Blinn College student researchers recently displayed their original research at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

Craig Mullen, Jerrod Ford, Alex Elder, Rachel Alvarado, Kristina Cunningham, Christopher Holt, Joshua Ballard, Teresa McGee, Lawrence Rattanavong and Kristen Sedillo teamed with professors Rachel Sanchez, Dr. Hanan Abdou, Dr. Beverly Clement, Dr. Lee Don Bienski, Dr. Carl Aronson, Dr. Oscar Alzate and Dr. Al Gallegos to select and develop the seven posters and one paper selected for presentation at the conference, which drew an estimated 15,000 visitors.

The students’ research ranged from testing mushrooms for specific toxins to investigating protein networks in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the 10 researchers selected by Blinn faculty to attend the conference, 20 additional students worked behind the scenes on the posters and paper.

To earn an invitation to the conference, students conducted months of research before submitting abstracts detailing their findings to be reviewed by industry professionals. With most presentations coming from four-year universities, it was a unique honor for Blinn to be represented.

“This is an experience the students won’t get anywhere else at this point in their education,” said Bienski, a chemistry professor and assistant academic dean for the Division of Agricultural & Natural Sciences. “They participate in research years earlier than they normally would, which helps them advance to other programs and careers ahead of their peers.”

During the conference, students answered questions from industry leaders and members of the academic community from institutions across the nation.

“It’s a lot of hard work mixed with a stroke of good luck,” McGee said. “This put my foot in the door. It gave each of us the ability to conduct true research, to get published and to present our findings on a national level. It also solidified that I want to study biochemistry and genetics, because I was able to get directly involved in research and speak with professionals across the scientific field.”

With the exception of a few volunteers, most students who contributed to conference submissions are enrolled in Chemistry 2289: Academic Cooperative, a course designed to integrate on-campus study with practical, hands-on experience. An invitation to the American Chemical Society’s national meeting is the pinnacle of the course.

“Research is addicting,” Abdou said. “Once you get students involved in the process, they become so interested that they want to continue for the foreseeable future. It’s inspiring to see this at Blinn, and to see that our students are producing work worthy of national recognition.”