By Carol Borchert
The Center for Environmental Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences held its inaugural research symposium this spring, giving graduate and a few undergraduate students the opportunity to showcase their research projects and present in a professional forum.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said William Hanneman, director of the Center for Environmental Medicine. “It’s a great platform to present the scope of research work under way at the center, as well as give our students a chance to hone their skills at professional presentations in the setting of a scientific conference.”
The symposium opened with comments from Hanneman and Mark Stetter, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Keynote speaker was Roger A. Coulombe, Jr., director of the Interdepartmental Graduate Toxicology Program in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at Utah State University. He delivered a talk titled “Public Health Impacts of Particulate Air Pollution in Northern Utah – Translational Studies.”
Richard Slayden, CEM associate director, and Ron Tjalkens, CEM associate director of research, moderated the symposium.
More than 100 participants registered for the symposium, which featured 35 posters and four presentations. Student presenters represented three primary areas of study: toxicology; health and exercise science; and biomedical sciences. All faculty mentors are affiliated with the Center for Environmental Medicine.
Taylor Carpenter, a junior in the Department of Exercise and Health Science, is working with John Volckens in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, and presented on “Human Exposure and Ventilation Rates Whilst Commuting in Fort Collins, Colo.”
Taylor Carpenter presented a poster summarizing research into human exposure to air pollution while commuting.
“I started as a volunteer with Dr. Volckens my freshman year, so I’ve gotten to see this study develop from the beginning,” Carpenter said. “We’re looking at the rates of exposure to airborne pollution of commuters in the local community, particularly looking at exposures for people who commute by bike as compared to those who commute by car. Being able to present this data in a professional setting, and having to explain the research, really takes it up to the next level beyond the lab, which has been really interesting for me.”
The Center for Environmental Medicine plans to host the second annual spring research symposium next year, giving a new crop of students the opportunity to hone their professional skills in oral and poster sessions.
“We’re really pleased with the success of this year’s symposium and look forward to expanding participation and awareness next year,” Tjalkens said. “The symposium really provides a great environment for our students to experience a professional scientific presentation setting, as well as network with their peers and mentors to learn more about the research going on at the center.”