With just 19 students and 13 faculty mentors, the University of Arizona's Undergraduate Biology Research Program got its start in 1988.
Today, with the assistance of 240 faculty mentors, UBRP supports 140 students, some of whom will present their original research this weekend during the program's 23rd annual conference.
Carol Bender, who directs the program, said the conference is a great way for UBRP participants to gain experience presenting their research while the general public becomes better acquainted with the University and its students.
"Research improves the quality of life for everyone," said Bender, adding that the audience plays a "huge role" in the event.
The conference will be held Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. in Room B105 of the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, 1657 E. Helen St. Students will present during two poster sessions, the first at 1:15 p.m., and a second at 3:10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
UA alumna and former UBRP student Shameema Sikder, currently the assistant chief of service at Johns Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute, is the keynote speaker.
Student researchers will present on topics that include issues around agriculture, diabetes and food security, among other topics.
Bender, noting the value placed on research nationally, said the upcoming conference enables students to discuss their work and issues that are meaningful to them. It also is a time to discuss the role their research could play in the longevity of the U.S.
"This is a great opportunity for students and the general public alike to network and learn something new," said Bender, also a UA professor in practice of molecular and cellular biology.
Shemonti Hasan, UBRP Ambassadors club president, will introduce the awards ceremony, which is scheduled to close the conference.
Hasan, who is pursuing a double major in physiology and molecular and cellular biology, noted how much UBRP has helped her grow as a student.
"UBRP has given me the confidence and motivation to pursue a career in both medicine and research," said Hasan, a UA sophomore in the Honors College.
For this year's conference, Hasan said she is looking forward to viewing the variety of student projects that will be showcased.
"It's amazing to see the different research occurring within our university and even more amazing to see how much we can learn from one another."