Hearing science and poster in the same sentence might bring back memories of an elementary science fair project, but for Jess Lees and Zev Friedman it’s not quite as simple as a baking soda and vinegar volcano.
The two students presented their undergraduate research projects Monday in Austin as part of the Undergraduate Research Posters at the Capitol event.
Fifty schools from across Texas selected one or two representatives each to present research to their peers as well as to legislators.
“It’s important for scientists to break down their findings so the public and politicians can understand what they are doing and how it affects them even on a daily basis,” said Lees, a senior microbiology major from Plainview.
The poster Lees presented is the result of two and a half years in the research lab, he said. Lees’ research involved what makes cells become cancerous and possible ways to prevent it.
Students created posters about their research and set them up in one room as an exhibit for attendees to walk through while the students explained their projects.
Not too worried about speaking in front of a crowd, Lees said he was glad to represent Tech and undergraduates in general to show how much undergraduate researchers care and are willing to work.
Tech’s growth was also an important factor both Friedman and Lees pointed out, saying being able to present at such a prestigious event brought recognition to Tech that would be valuable for the tier-one status the university is working toward.
Lees and Friedman were selected out of a group of about 35 applicants in various fields of study, but they are not the only ways Tech is involved with the conference.
Jeannie Diaz, the director of the Tech Center for Undergraduate Research, said as soon as she heard about Posters at the Capitol, she offered Tech’s assistance. The center helped design the entire conference, and all registration and online interaction for the event took place on Tech websites.
“We’re definitely excited Texas Tech has a strong presence,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase student research. It also helps to make sure students receive the PR and recognition they deserve.”
Around 150 politicians, college faculty members and other important figures in Texas education attended the event and could ask questions of the presenters, said Zev Friedman, Tech’s other representative.
“It’s great for networking, meeting other researchers and legislators,” said Friedman, a senior math and computer science dual major from Albuquerque, N.M. “They get to see the results of funding of higher education, something they are voting on right now.”
Friedman’s research was about web services and data consistency, and he said it was his first time to present at a formal conference.
Both representatives agreed getting involved in undergraduate research is a good experience and they would gladly do it again.
Lees said these presentations are a part of the crucial and practical job scientists need to do.
“One of the most important things for scientists is to be able to convey our findings,” Lees said. “We have to understand they aren’t just for the scientific community, but they’re for everyone.”