San Jose State students and faculty attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Seattle Nov. 11-14, where five SJSU students received awards.
Fauna Yarza, a spring 2015 transfer student, received an award for her microbiology poster presentation. The trip was her first time to a national conference and her first time to give a poster presentation about her research.
“It gave me confidence in myself as a scientific communicator,” said Yarza, ’17 biological sciences with a microbiology concentration.
Yarza is part of the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program that promotes research opportunities for underrepresented minorities. Yarza’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and her mother has only a grade-school education.
“All she asked of me growing up was to get a college degree,” Yarza said.
Working with Assistant Professor Elizabeth Skovran, Yarza and other students are researching bacteria that appear to be able to take in rare earth elements that could be beneficial in recycling metals from electronics.
“I’d like to go for my Ph.D so research experience is crucial,” Yarza said.
Yarza said through the RISE program “I get paid to do research.”
“Without it, I would need to take out more loans or get a part-time job,” she said. “I’m not sure I could balance classes, work and research.”
Yarza said the program has also given her access to mentors with whom she would not have had the chance to interact, including Professor Karen Singmaster who is the program director for SJSU’s RISE.
Students from the Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-USTAR) program, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, and the College of Science Research and Teaching Scholars (CoSRaTs) program also attended the conference. The programs are funded by federal grant. Singmaster is the SJSU program coordinator for LSAMP and program director of CosRaTs. Dr. Leslee Parr is the director of MARC-USTAR.
MARC students Jessica Ballin and Rebecca Sandoval, both psychology majors, presented research performed during the summer at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign and Universty of Michigan, respectively. Awardees from the RISE program presented work done with faculty at SJSU. In addition to Yarza, Elvia Silva, a biological sciences student working with Dr. Tzvia Abramson and Adrian Riives, a chemistry student working with Dr. Gilles Muller, were also recognized with an award.