May 24, 2024

During the spring 2024 semester, students in various disciplines presented research at conferences across the United States.

students and professor standing beside a "Proud Chemist" signHampden-Sydney’s Undergraduate Research Program supports classroom learning by empowering students to further hone critical thinking, analysis, and communication skills. Thanks to dedicated faculty and staff, 13 students got to flex their skills off the Hill this past year to present original research at conferences around the country, where they received invaluable opportunities to network with professionals and learn from their peers.

In March, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ava Kreider-Mueller and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Glenn Gilyot accompanied Marc Moroz ’26, Thomas Morris ’24, Evan Old ’26, and Garrett Regan ’25 to the American Chemical Society National Meeting held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The theme of the conference was Many Flavors of Chemistry, which explored topics in food and flavors, hunger, diversity, new materials, as well as health and wellness.

At the conference, Thomas, Evan, and Garrett showcased their research during the Division of Chemical Education Undergraduate Research Poster Session. Thomas and Evan presented their findings on metal interactions, which they had investigated in collaboration with Dr. Kreider-Mueller. Meanwhile, Garrett shared his research on metal exchanges, conducted alongside Dr. Gilyot.

students and professor standing beside a "BMB" conference signIn addition to presenting their research, the conference provided valuable networking and learning experiences. The students explored chemistry career pathways through workshops, interacted with representatives from graduate programs during the graduate school fair, and gained insights into cutting-edge developments in the field through numerous oral presentations. Beyond the conference sessions, they took the theme of the conference to the streets and savored the culinary offerings of New Orleans, immersing themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of the French Quarter and the Garden District.

Several days later, McGavacks Professor of Biology and Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Michael Wolyniak along with Nathan Cabrera ’24, Connor Eickelman ’24, Pierce Gemborys ’25, Dorian Green ’24, Henry Loehr ’24 and Becton Topping ’24 made their way to the Discover BMB conference, the annual meeting of the American Society for Biology and Molecular Biology, held at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio.

The students showcased projects from Dr. Wolyniak’s Biochemistry Laboratory class and their Honors Capstone endeavors. Their presentations focused on two main aspects: developing the capacity to perform DNA sequencing at Hampden-Sydney through the use of nanopore technology and generating and studying mutations in the metabolic enzyme malate dehydrogenase to better understand how it is regulated by phosphorylation at key sites. They presented their findings in both an undergraduate poster competition and in broader sessions attended by graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and scientists. In addition to their academic engagements, the group managed to explore iconic landmarks like the Alamo and the Riverwalk.

When students attend and present at conferences such as these, they interact with the top professionals in their field, meet students from across the country with similar professional interests, and learn about exciting new opportunities they could pursue going forward.

Michael Wolyniak, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research

H-SC students standing beside his poster presentation“When students attend and present at conferences such as these, they interact with the top professionals in their field, meet students from across the country with similar professional interests, and learn about exciting new opportunities they could pursue going forward,” Wolyniak said. “When faculty attend these conferences with their students, they are able to show the students how their work at Hampden-Sydney applies to the field at large and how to best take advantage of the contacts they can make at the conference.”

Heading into April, Trinkle Professor of Biology Kristian Hargadon ’01 joined Devanand Clark ’25 at the American Association for Cancer Research held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

Devanand showcased his collaborative research with Dr. Hargadon, which also benefited from contributions by Patrick Conde ’23. Their project employed CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to create a line of cancer cells lacking FoxC2, a transcription factor associated with the development of specific melanomas.

Nearing mid-April, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Director of the Rhetoric Studio Miranda Rouse accompanied Martin Eschman ’24 and Nishawn Hodge ’24 to the Excellence at the Center Conference hosted by the National Association for Communication Center (NACC) at Arizona State University in Glendale, Arizona.

students and professor standing beside a "ASU" conference signNishawn participated in a panel discussion alongside several other peer consultants from different institutions, while Martin delivered two presentations, one of which focused on his 2023 summer research conducted in the Rhetoric Studio. Joining via Zoom, George Langhammer ’24 presented his workshop concept developed in Comm Strategies for Consulting/Coaching & Instructing (RHET 240). This workshop was part of his role as a consultant in the Rhetoric Studio, offered during the semester. Dr. Rouse also joined in on the fun, presenting at two panel sessions during the conference.  

“Attending and presenting at the NACC conference over the past two years has been an illuminating experience,” George said. “Witnessing the equivalent of our rhetoric program at other schools reinforced the uniqueness of our program. Other institutions do not possess the resources that our Rhetoric Studio has to offer, and we are extremely fortunate.”

Back on the Hill, student research thrives, and the possibilities of significant breakthroughs and groundbreaking revelations are limitless. With the continued support and encouragement from dedicated faculty advisors, students are well-prepared to make significant contributions to their chosen fields and tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

More News Stories