Simone Aloisio, PhD (right) with student researchers presenting his
project studying mercury levels in cigarettes.
Five chemistry research projects were represented by CSUCI students this year at SCCUR.

The Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research is an interdisciplinary research conference showcasing the best undergraduate research currently underway across California. The event includes research from a wide variety of academic fields ranging from political science and gender studies to ecology and physics. 

Hosted on November 21st at Harvey Mudd College, the conference attracted student representatives from across the state. Among those in attendance were CSUCI science researchers representing five projects carried out under the supervision of advisors Simone Aloisio (pictured above), Ahmed Awad and Brittnee Veldman.

The event ran from 8 AM to 5 PM and opened with a keynote address by Nadia Abuelezam, a Harvey Mudd alumni and Harvard graduate. Her talk entitled Understanding the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic with (Sexy) Mathematical Models interspersed discussion of the technical details of her research with the story of how she came to be involved with it, along with pieces of advice she learned along the way.

A variety of student-led research presentations followed, along with three independent poster sessions where rows of posters summarizing research projects were showcased in the college’s Activity Center. Representatives from each group stood by their posters to explain the details and answer the questions of attendees.  

The conference is a first for many of the students in attendance, serving as valuable practice before they move on to present at larger national events. Students gain insight into a wide variety of research projects along with experience in public speaking and networking.

The interdisciplinary focus of the conference also provides a unique opportunity for students to communicate across fields of study.  

“A lot of Chemistry researchers were interested in our poster,” said Angel Torres, whose research focuses on materials chemistry, “but I feel like I got the most out of explaining the research to non-science majors. They asked questions I wasn’t expecting which forced me to think about our project differently. The process of trying to verbalize science concepts without using jargon actually helped me understand them more clearly myself.”

Written by: Aisling Williams