The 14th Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) was held in San Antonio, Texas earlier this month (November 12-15). Twelve PRISM students attended, presenting posters about their scientific research at John Jay. Three of these students (Yessenia Lopez, Porfirio Fernandez, and Jiwon Seo) received Travel Awards from the conference to defray the costs of their travels. Dr. Jason Rauceo and Dr. Garry Brown from the Science Department accompanied the students, as well as PRISM coordinator Dr. Edgardo Sanabria-Valentin.
ABRCMS is one of the largest undergraduate research conferences in the United States, with more than 1,700 students presenting their research in about twelve fields in biomedical sciences. Our students presented their work in diverse projects (chemistry, toxicology, cellular and molecular biology, environmental sciences, and microbiology), showcasing the diversity of scientific research being performed at John Jay.
To prepare for their presentation, PRISM organized “ABRCMS Boot Camp” the week before departing for Texas. Students got to practice their presentation skills in daily sessions helped by faculty members of the Science Department and the PRISM staff. They also got to learn about networking and perfected their “elevator pitch.” At the conference they attended sessions discussing the importance of science communication, how to prepare an application to graduate programs, the different types of graduate programs, and the importance of networking and other professional development events.
An account by Richard Khusial, senior Forensic Science major:
The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held in San Antonio, Texas was an enlightening and unique experience. It is an environment where everyone is concerned about one thing: science. I enjoyed the fact that everyone there was approachable and friendly. Conversations were held everywhere from the exhibition hall to the guy behind you in the escalator. To be successful in science you have to be able to speak about your research to the average person. I always struggled to communicate my thoughts on research or science topics with the average listener. At ABRCMS there were workshops and talks about the importance of communication among all disciples. Tips and guides were given to help with this problem. PRISM has helped me prepare for ABRCMS in many ways. The mock poster presentations that were done before were extremely usefully since the mock judges held positions in the science field. The questions that the mock judges asked were similar to the real judge’s questions. The anxiety and nervousness decreased and was replaced with confidence since the PRISM preparation eased our minds. ABRCMS was a well invested experience that, I can say, will help me push forward my career.
An account by Ruth Romero, junior Forensic Science major:
What I enjoyed the most about attending this conference was the opportunity to network with professionals currently working on research in my field and to be able to talk to them and ask any questions. Also, I got to meet other students from all over the country with the same interests as me. At ABRCMS I learned about the many programs and schools I could apply to once I complete my education at John Jay, and the kind of research they do, as well as the summer program opportunities that they offer. PRISM has help me immensely, with the meetings and workshops they offer and mostly with the ABRCMS boot camp that prepared us to present our research. Thanks to PRISM I had an idea of what to expect at this conference. It was my first time attending a conference of this magnitude, and I loved every minute of the experience. I’m definitely looking forward to exposing myself to other activities like this one. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
An account by Jiwon Seo, junior Forensic Sciences major:
ABRCMS is really an eye-opening experience that allows undergraduate research students to be exposed to the breadth of science and to gain valuable information about graduate schools. It is also a chance to preview what it is like to be a scientist and to interact with other research students across the nation. Through ABRCMS, I developed skills to engage in intellectual discussions within and outside of my scientific discipline. I was encouraged to practice introducing myself as a scientist and to talk about my research with enthusiasm. I found many scientific sessions that were both inspiring and extremely helpful in preparing for graduate school. Above all, I am very relieved that I got to learn the importance of networking before it is too late. I could really enjoy the conference, because PRISM had prepared me thoroughly. I went through a “boot-camp” to practice and to improve my presentation. I got my first set of business cards and was taught to introduce myself with an “elevator pitch.” I was also led step by step in booking the hotel, checking the flights, arranging ground transportation, and other necessary preparations for the travel. There was nothing I had to worry about, even though this was the first time I went out of the east coast. I am glad that I went through my first research conference through PRISM.
An account from Carlos Texeira, senior Forensic Science major:
What I enjoyed most about my experience at ABRCMS were the interactions I had with people who were like me and shared that same drive to strive for excellence in the sciences. Also the opportunity to network with other students, professors, and scientist was also something that I really enjoyed. I learned that science is more than just working in a lab and isolating yourself from the rest of humanity, but that it is the total opposite. In order to be a good scientist requires that you be able to communicate your knowledge to people who may not have a scientific background so that they understand. Lastly, that we as future scientists have a responsibility to shape the world around us by being able to communicate our research to other people who can influence policy. PRISM has prepared me for ABRCMS and other future conference by constantly setting up workshops and monthly meetings in which much information is covered that is also covered at the conferences. It has also prepared me by instilling the confidence necessary in order to be able to present in front of judges. I would also say that every aspect that ABRCMS covered was something that PRISM had already prepared me for so that I was well prepared in advance. I think this is something in which more people should attend and that other students including others from other subjects should get involved in.