Inside USD

Students Get Specifics On Science Research Opportunities

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Karen Cesafsky says one reason she chose to attend the University of San Diego was its reputation for undergraduate research opportunities.

The junior Biochemistry major from Chicago learned more about specifics by attending a science mixer at the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology atrium on Wednesday night. The event enabled students to speak directly with faculty members from all science disciplines about their respective research and to find opportunities to work alongside them.

“I looked into USD because I knew I’d be a science major. I applied everywhere, but I decided on USD because of the undergraduate research, its professors, the small class size and this (science) building,” Cesafsky said. “This fair really helped me get situated with what I want to do.”

Cesafsky spent time talking with one of USD’s newest professors, Lauren Benz (pictured, above), regarding her research on clean energy sources. “Her lab is just getting started and I think I really want to look into working with her. I would be able help her set up the lab in the spring. I want to stay here this summer to do research so I can really dedicate myself to it.”

Mark Prator, a sophomore marine science major, used the event as an opportunity to find out more about projects run by Marine Science and Environmental Studies department chair and professor Michel Boudrias and assistant professor Drew Talley. Prator’s interest ranges from working with marine mammals to environmental justice.

“This was a chance to find out what’s going on. I’m definitely glad I came,” he said.

Adam Vaughn, a junior biochemistry major, transferred to USD in fall 2008. He knows he wants to do scientific research, and he used the mixer to potentially narrow his focus. He listened closely to Kimberly Matulef, an assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry, discuss her research involving cell membrane proteins.

Vaughn’s previous research experience before coming to USD involved working with a scientist trying to develop a vaccine for human hookworm infection.

“I have a thirst to do more research, but I want to do something different,” Vaughn said. Wednesday’s event, he said, provided “four or five that I really liked.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

A second science mixer takes place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Friday during USD’s Family Weekend celebration. Students and their families can meet science faculty and current research students and view posters describing their projects in the atrium of the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology.

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