Students Kick Off Frontiers in Science

Student researchers kicked off the California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) fall semester series Frontiers in Science with the 2nd annual undergraduate research mini-symposium.

The seminar featured presentations from three CSUSM students, Jehovani Lopez, Andrea Fenner, and Christopher Salvo, who participated in the inaugural Measurement and Instrumentation Science Training Institute, a physical and biological sciences training and research experience.

"I thought it would be a unique experience to work in a physics lab," said Jehovani Lopez, a first-generation college student majoring in biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. "This experience solidified my respect and peaked my interest in physics. It made me appreciate all the work that goes into research."

Lopez, Fenner, and Salvo were among the research program's ten students, each logging a total of 320 hours of extensive training and internship in a research laboratory at CSUSM or the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The research experience for undergraduates is a collaborative program coordinated by the Department of Physics and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSUSM with the Center for Theoretical Biophysics at UCSD.

Over the summer, Lopez explored viable methods to examine non-conducting surfaces of metal particles using the scanning tunneling microscope. Salvo, a senior studying physics, sought to find the pressure at which 4:1 Methanol: Ethanol would stop distributing pressure equally around a sample at temperatures below liquid nitrogen. Fenner, a junior majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, focused on purifying Salmonella proteins in order to investigate their structures using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy together with site--directed spin labeling.
 
"In class, there can be so many intangible concepts and illustrations," Lopez added. "Working in a lab helps bind the theories I learn in class and makes them more than just equations and diagrams, but actual real-life phenomena that require attention."

More than half of the students from the undergraduate summer research program are continuing their research throughout the fall semester, and two students will be presenting their findings at an upcoming national conference for the American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics.

"It is incredibly rewarding and exciting to know I was taking measurements that only a handful of people have ever taken," Salvo said.

The mini-symposium launched the fall series for CSUSM Frontiers in Science, a series of seminars exploring the new discoveries at the interface of biology and physics. These seminars introduce audiences from all disciplines and academic levels to the intrigue and fun of scholarly pursuits in the natural and physical science disciplines.

"The goal of Frontiers in Science is to expose and recognize the research that's been conducted in our community," said Dr. Michael J. Burin, professor of physics at CSUSM. "Our campus is the intellectual center of North County and it's exciting to see this science series grow not only in content, but also in community impact and involvement."

Creating an atmosphere of excitement at the forefront of interdisciplinary research continues to expand and expose students and attendees to new areas of science. The Frontiers in Science seminars, held in Science Hall 2, room 242, from noon to 1:00 p.m., are free, open to the public, and include light refreshments. For more information, contact Dr. Michael J. Burin at (760) 750-8575.

Upcoming Seminars in the Frontiers in Science

Sep 30:   Physics and Art: Was Mona Lisa dating Da Vinci? And Other Questions
Dr. Jorge A. Lopez
Department of Physics
University of Texas El Paso

Oct 14:   Lies, Damn Lies, and Science
Dr. Sherry Seethaler
Author and Asst Director of Science Communication, Physical Science Division
University of California San Diego

Nov 4:   The Kepler Mission to Find Earth-like Planets
Dr. William Welsh
Department of Astronomy
San Diego State University

Dec 2:   Real-Time Surface Imaging in Radiation Therapy
Dr. Laura Cervino
Department of Radiation Oncology, Moores Cancer Center
University of California San Diego

"The goal of Frontiers in Science is to expose and recognize the research that's been conducted in our community. Our campus is the intellectual center of North County and it's exciting to see this science series grow not only in content, but also in community impact and involvement."

Dr. Michael J. Burin
Professor of Physics