Undergraduate research showcased at fall symposium

Quanit Ali

The Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium is a chance for students to present a highlight reel of their research at UT to underscore the importance of academic involvement for undergraduates.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology hosted the research symposium Saturday to encourage research initiatives and participation at UT.

“Our biggest goal was to increase the participation, which we have almost doubled this year from last year’s group,” said ASBMB president Lisa Strong, a biochemistry junior.

A variety of fields, from chemistry to molecular biology and even astronomy, attracted researchers to come forward and share their current projects. 

Martha Romero, marine and freshwater biology senior, conducted a research experiment in which she compiled data on sheepshead fish spawning points from populations within Texas.

Romero said there is very little data on Texas fish populations, forcing Texas to use other states’ data, leading to inaccurate standards in regulations. 

Her research took her to Port Aransas, where she evaluated the reproductive stages of caught fish to see if fishing was harming populations. 

Romero surmised that humans weren’t hurting the fish and introduced new Texas-specific data.

“We have an impact on different creatures … we can help people who are using this as a job and to feed other people, while also making sure populations remain sustainable,” Romero said.

Freshmen are a growing demographic as they are the ones who continue the tradition of research at UT.

Dylan Fall, Plan II and biochemistry junior, came to the symposium to talk to prospective freshmen about a research team in microorganism symbiosis.

Fall’s lab’s work consists of collecting bees to examine microbial organisms on them and how they coexist. 

The lab is currently researching the effect of pesticides on pollinators like bees.

“It’s really fun to take people out to BFL [Brackenridge Field Laboratory] and say ‘Okay guys we’re done doing the molecular side of things, so everyone grab a net and let’s grab some bugs,’” Fall said.

There will be a winner selected from all the presenters, inspiring some healthy competition. Presentation winners will be posted on the symposium’s website. For some students, the achievement is in the research itself.

“For me, it’s all about getting my research out there and getting involved,” said Lyndsey Aguirre, cell and molecular biology senior. “It’s about showing people what I can do and getting them to care about me and my research.”