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Western University of Health Sciences’ summer research program provides valuable experience and mentorship to students and is bigger than ever.

Thirty-seven WesternU students gave oral presentations and 27 students gave poster presentations at the 12th annual Student Technology and Research Symposium (STRS) Aug. 1, 2019 on the WesternU Pomona, California campus. STRS is the culmination of the 2019 summer research grant fellowships sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Biotechnology.

Click here to view a list of oral presentations: http://webassets.westernu.edu/westernu-news/docs/2019STRSOralPresentations.pdf

Click here to view a list of poster presentations: http://webassets.westernu.edu/westernu-news/docs/2019STRSPosterPresentations.pdf

Second-year College of Podiatric Medicine students Dy Chin and Alex Kramer presented “The Incidence and Classification of the Peroneus Tertius, Peroneus Quartus, and Peroneus Degiti Quinti: A Cadaveric Study.”

“Because we’re practicing evidence-based medicine, we want to use as our foundation the research that we not only do but the research that our faculty and everyone in the science community does, so we wanted to contribute to that,” Chin said. “Particularly for our research, I learned quite a bit just pertaining to our profession. I know I can take that with me throughout my career.”

Presenting their research in a large lecture hall was not too nerve-racking because the audience was filled with people they knew and trusted, Chin and Kramer said.

Second-year College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific student Nasser Hashem said he wants to practice as a clinician while also developing innovations in the lab.

“I wanted to get a head start on that and get some experience before actually getting my degree so that I have the characteristics and the temperament needed when I do enter that field,” he said.

Third-year College of Pharmacy student Tiffanie Tran, who presented the poster “MSG and headaches: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” said she has always had a passion for research.

“I like doing research and I like learning about other people’s research, which shows what makes them happy to learn about too,” Tran said. “Being students, we’re lucky in that we have the support of the faculty to do what we want. If you really like research, it gives you a chance to really find answers to questions you have for yourself, and it’s just really fun.”

Second-year College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) student Alexandra Gean collaborated with CVM professors Wael Khamas, BVM&S, MS, PhD, and Josep Rutllant, DVM, PhD, on “A Pilot Study of the Anatomy and Histology of the Copulatory Organs in the Male Argentine Tegu.” She said she enjoys research because she can really dig into a subject.

“In medicine, we learn so many topics that you don’t always have the time to fully explore. You just kind of have to go to a certain depth and stop,” Gean said. “Whereas in research you are able to go as far as you like, and that’s the whole reason I do this.”

Participating in the summer research program has made her a much better student and has given her a much better understanding of subjects like histology and anatomy, she said. She learned how to find information more effectively and how to be “comfortable being uncomfortable, because I was completely out of my depth.

“I’m working with people who are anatomists and histologists, so they have been doing this for 20 years. I had to learn how to keep up with them in conversation and how to bring up points that would be valid to them,” Gean said. “We were all sort of theorizing together — that’s just something I could not have fathomed doing before, and it brought me to that level. It brought me to being a next-level student, and I would not have done that without this program.”

STRS included poster presentations for the second time, mainly because his office received so many abstracts, said Steven Henriksen, PhD, WesternU vice president for research and biotechnology. The students could not all give oral presentations because the program would have gone on too long. Some might think that giving a 10-minute oral presentation is more prestigious, but most people who regularly present at scientific meetings prefer a poster, Henriksen said.

“You have a much better opportunity to be able to present your ideas in a poster session because you have an endless period of time, and therefore you can go into great detail,” he said. “It is selective. People will come to a poster because they are interested in it and spend as much time as much time as they want. It is much more effective in communicating your data.”

STRS is an important part of Henriksen’s goal of promoting and enhancing research at WesternU.

“As far as the growth of the research enterprise, it has been tremendous in the sense of people getting grants, and the prestige of the institution has been enhanced because of the research,” Henriksen said. “We don’t just have an academic mission; we have a research mission too. All health care professions realize how important that is. To be able to expand the scope of what it means to be a health sciences university has been a dream that I had, and it has come to pass.”