Spreading the Word about Biophysics at Conferences for Minority Students

This past fall, the Biophysical Society joined over 6,000 undergraduate students at two of the largest annual conferences for minority students interested in science, The Society for the Advancement of Hispanic/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). BPS, along with over 1,000 other institutions, agencies, and societies, provided student attendees with professional advice, exposure to a variety of disciplines, and an array of academic opportunities.

In October, BPS staff made their way to San Antonio, Texas, for SACNAS, where Minority Affairs Committee member, Luis Marky, University of Nebraska, chaired the biophysics symposium, Cutting-Edge Research in the Electrostatics of Nucleic Acids, Proteins, and Their Interactions. In addition to Marky, Blanca Barquera, Rensselaer Institute of Technology; Thomas Truskett, University of Texas at Austin; and Lauren Webb, University of Texas Austin, gave talks during the symposium. MAC committee member Silvia Cavagnero, University of Wisconsin, Madison, joined Marky in judging biophysics-related posters and selecting two students to win travel awards to attend the BPS 2014 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, and present their research. The SACNAS Travel Award winners are Melissa Hernandez, University of New Mexico, and Gelson Pagan Diaz, University of Puerto Rico.

Also, for the first time at SACNAS, BPS featured the Biomolecular Discovery Dome which showed a minifilm entitled Trypanosoma: Parasite Kills Millions in Africa and the Americas. The dome allowed participants to get a 3-D visual of the parasite and learn about the biophysical research into the disease it causes—Sleeping Sickness.

In November, BPS staff headed to Nashville, Tennessee, for ABRCMS. BPS Staff members April Dela Vega and Claude Ngopa spoke to students about the Society’s programs and services, especially the Society’s Summer Program in Biophysics, an 11-week course at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Local BPS members Brett Kroncke and Dungeng Peng, Vanderbilt University, judged biophysics-related posters during the three-day conference and selected an additional two travel award winners to attend the BPS 2014 Annual Meeting. The ABRCMS Travel Award winners are Joshua Rosario-Sepulveda, University of Puerto Rico at Cayay, and Tomas Rodriguez, University of California, Davis.

In addition to the four travel awards, BPS sponsored a total of 12 poster awards between the two conferences.