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CSUN Students on Research Stage Amid Experts at Conference Advancing Chicanos, Native Americans in Science

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(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Sep. 29th, 2010) ―

Three Cal State Northridge undergraduate students are joining several Northridge faculty members on the national scientific stage this weekend when they present research findings at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) annual meeting Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

SACNAS Conference "Science, Technology and Diversity for a Sustainable Future"

Chemistry graduate Natalie Martinez Takeshita will join CSUN biology professors Larry Allen and Michael Franklin for an oral presentation on the global genetic variation of yellowtail. Graduate biology student Stella Swanson will join CSUN biology professor Robert Carpenter during a poster presentation on how various species of sea urchins, with differences in mobility and algae-grazing apparatuses have varying impacts on the development of coral reef communities. Kinesiology senior Joseph Santistevan will discuss his efforts (using a mustard plant common in genetic experimentation) to develop plants with more robust root systems.

With its theme “Science, Technology and Diversity for a Sustainable Future,” the SACNAS conference, held in conjunction with the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES), is expected to attract 4,000 participants.

In addition to those faculty presenting with their students, Northridge physics professor Ana Cristina Cadavid will be part of a three-expert panel presenting the latest discoveries in space science. Biology professor MariaElena Zavala, a former winner of the White House’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, will chair a panel on new genetic techniques for modifying crops to boost and sustain food production. She also will co-chair a panel for college educators on ways to increase the participation of underrepresented students in scientific and technical fields.

With fresh research findings in biotechnology, environmental engineering, mathematics, chemistry, psychology and other realms, students and teams from 17 California State University campuses will present 98 posters, some representing multi-institution and multi-nation collaborations. Overall, nearly 1,000 research posters will be presented by university students. Five CSU students will make oral presentations.

SACNAS presents the poster sessions to help students prepare for science careers and the rigors of discipline-focused professional conferences. The sessions will be from 3:15 to 5:45 p.m. Friday and from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The public is invited to the Saturday session and discuss research with the students.

According to Laura Robles, interim dean for the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences at CSU Dominguez Hills, “Dozens, indeed hundreds, of CSU students have the opportunity to participate in this important conference because of a deeply ingrained commitment to research-mentoring among CSU faculty. These teachers know that a student’s ultimate success as a scientist is often rooted in early, strong guidance from professors who clearly care about the student’s future.”

The conference, said Robles, a former member of the SACNAS board of directors, also helps students establish contacts and mentors beyond their own campus by deliberately interspersing the poster presentations among exhibits from major universities, research institutions and potential employers.

“The students make fantastic connections,” she said. “They meet professional scientists. They meet other students like themselves, with similar backgrounds and pursuing similar goals.”

For more information about the conference, visit its website: http://www.sacnas.org/confnew/confclient/.

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