The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation, with the goal of bolstering support for historically underrepresented students in the STEM fields. The Indiana contingent of LSAMP schools includes IU South Bend, IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU Northwest, Ivy Tech Indianapolis, and Ball State.
Pictured from left: Precious-Gold Akpadija, Emily Barrera, Hiba Majeed, and Marcus Bailey (Photo by Wendi Chitwood/Indiana University)Pictured from left: Precious-Gold Akpadija, Emily Barrera, Hiba Majeed, and Marcus Bailey (Photo by Wendi Chitwood/Indiana University)
The annual statewide LSAMP conference for 2022, which was held September 30 and October 1 in Bloomington, was themed “Celebrating Curiosity: LSAMP Scholars’ Journeys Through Connection, Purpose and Change.” IU South Bend’s contingent made a noteworthy impression.
One of the highlights of the conference comes in the form of the student poster sessions. The posters represent a clear demonstration of the research each student has been undertaking, and the posters are judged by three mentors. This year’s judge panel came from Ball State, and the judges selected four IUSB student posters among the top five statewide.
Precious-Gold Akpadija and Hiba Majeed tied for second place, and the honorable mentions went to Emily Barrera and Marcus Bailey. The titles of the poster projects can be daunting to the non-scientist. (Akpadija’s was called “Effect of Guanidinium Content on the Anion Binding Capacity of Pollyallyamine-Based Polymer Networks” and Majeed’s was “Investigating the Electroanalytical Performance of Bismuth-Antimony Film on Glassy Carbon Electrode in Detecting Lead and Cadmium.”) The terms sound formidable, but they are hardly mere theoretical exercises. They have real-life applications of the utmost importance. For instance, Majeed’s work concerns finding more efficient ways of detecting lead in water and soil.
IUSB’s LSAMP liaisons are chemistry professors Dr. Douglas McMillen (director) and Dr. Grace Muna (coordinator), and both were able to attend the event.
Muna points out that the conference sets up options for critical networking that is essential to the development of young scientists’ careers.
“It’s an opportunity for the students to present their work, but it’s also a chance for them to interact with other scholars who look like them,” Muna says. “They also get information about graduate schools and career development.”
Presenting and defending their research is vital psychological practice for their next endeavors.
“When they present their research, they gain confidence, which can be helpful when they go on to present at bigger conferences later on,” Muna says.
Students might also make the acquaintances of future collaborators. Undergraduates working in small laboratories can do terrific work, but a conference allows them to connect and bond with other researchers in similar fields.
“It’s nice that each student can get plenty of individualized attention from faculty members (at IUSB), but one challenge that smaller, regional universities face is that they’re typically working in small research groups,” McMillen says.
The resounding success of the Titan scientists at the conference bodes well indeed for their future.
“Those posters were of such high quality,” McMillen says. “They certainly could have been presented at conferences well beyond LSAMP.”