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UROP hails students and mentors at annual research symposium

Research advances in science and technology are usually made after years of study. But the faculty mentors of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program know that an early start can lead to exciting results.

“Together we can make meaningful discoveries, make inventions, find cures for disease,” says Sayon Roy, an associate professor in the department of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition at the School of Medicine. “To reach that point, we need to sow the seeds now and nurture the talents of those undergraduates at Boston University.”

Roy received UROP’s first annual faculty mentor award on Friday, October 14, at the program’s eighth annual undergraduate research symposium. The program, founded in 1997, provides students with faculty mentors who can help them develop their own research projects. At the symposium, held each year during Parents Weekend, students displayed posters outlining their summer research projects, which were shown throughout the Photonics Building Atrium. Topics this year ranged from Development of Integrated Electronics for Photo Multiplier Tube Signals, by John Penwell (CAS’06), to Material Culture of Masculinity, by Heather Diaz (UNI’06).

Roy worked with former UROP participant Peter Polewski (CAS’05) on a study of the causes of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. In accepting his award, Roy stressed that undergraduates can play a key role on research teams. “It is not because of an individual effort,” he said. “Science and discovery need a lot of research interests, and first we must give students a chance to engage.”

This year’s symposium also marked the introduction of prizes for the best posters, which were awarded to three undergraduate researchers. Penwell, Roxanne Chess (SAR’06), and Peter Yan (ENG’06) took home first, second, and third place, respectively. The top prize was an iPod nano.

“We’re thrilled with the idea that this will give you something to work towards in coming years,” Mary Erskine, a CAS professor of biology and the director of UROP, told students.