Whitman students present their work at University of Washington Undergraduate Research Symposium

UW Undergraduate Research Symposium

Ten Whitman students will travel to the University of Washington in Seattle to participate in the annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 16. There, they will present posters on research they have been doing and participate in panels.

The Symposium is a chance for undergraduate students to present research that they have been working on to a larger audience. Students gather for a day to present, and then attend other sessions with oral presentations, other posters and performance and visual arts showcases. One thousand students participate in the conference, which brings in an audience of 3,500. Whitman has been participating in the Symposium since 2012, when only four students were able to attend. The number has more than doubled in two years, with ten attendees in 2014.

Nathan Radakovich ’14 is presenting on research he has done during his time at Whitman. The project involved sequencing the T-cells reactive to a protein that may be associated with graft-versus-host disease in recipients of bone marrow transplants.

“I wanted to go to the conference to get more experience presenting to peer researchers, as well as to get a broader idea of what kind of research is going on in general,” he said. “This will be my first conference outside of Whitman and I'm excited to start getting more acquainted with the scientific community at large.”

A graduating biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology major from Pullman, Wash., Radakovich plans to go into lab research on HIV-neutralizing antibodies, starting with a summer internship with the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C. After that, he plans to go to medical school.

Tatiana Kaehler ’15 will be presenting research she did independently during a School for International Training study abroad program on traditional medicine in Madagascar. She will report on integrated health care systems as a means of providing holistic medical care. These systems combine traditional and biomedical practices.

“My research was an opportunity to explore the scientific, political and cultural dimensions of health care, which have been an interest of mine for a while,” Kaehler said.

“The undergraduate symposium is not only a great opportunity to share my research, but also to expose an audience to Malagasy culture. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Madagascar and I want to share that experience with others. By sharing my research, I'm hoping to teach others about the ways in which medicine can be implemented in a culturally sustainable manner.”

Kaehler created an interdisciplinary major called Health Science, Policy and Culture. Originally from Bellevue, Wash., she is the current ASWC Finance Chair and the President-Elect for 2015. She is an active member of Delta Gamma sorority and coordinates Whitman volunteers for the SOS Clinic in Walla Walla.

Ahren Stroming ’14 will be presenting his research on the magnitude of poaching and consumption of bushmeat (illegally hunted wild animals) in a region of northern Tanzania where he studied abroad last spring. One of his professors had been studying the phenomenon as well, and so Stroming was able to contribute and make some discoveries of his own.

“The bushmeat epidemic is perhaps the largest threat to wildlife conservation in East Africa, but it doesn't get a lot of attention, so I was interested in learning more about the issue,” Stroming said. “[The symposium] will also be a fun opportunity to join with other Whitman students I respect and admire for a final capstone event before we all graduate in a few weeks.

Stroming will be graduating this May with a degree in politics and environmental studies.

Biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology major McKenzie Momany ’14 will present a project entitled “Quantity and Quality Control of RNA Isolated from Foreskin, Rectum, and Colon Samples from an HIV Vaccine Trial.” This is a product of research that she did last summer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where she worked with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Specifically, she worked on a trial that took place in Lima, Peru that aims to quantify immune system responses in various mucus-secreting tissues.

“I wanted to go to the UW undergraduate symposium because I think it would be a fantastic opportunity to practice presenting scientific research in a larger symposium environment,” she said.