Students Participate in National Council on Undergraduate Research Conference

Two undergraduate students within the Computational Biology Institute (CBI) at the Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University (GW) participated in the National Council on Undergraduate Research’s 2018 conference, held in April in Edmond, Oklahoma. Margaret Steiner, Michelle Ahn and CBI graduate research assistant Keylie Gibson presented their research at the conference, which was attended by undergraduate students from a variety of academic disciplines.

Gibson previously attended the conference as an undergraduate student and was glad to accompany Steiner and Ahn to the conference.

“It was through undergraduate research where I found my place in the scientific community,” Gibson said.

Steiner’s presentation, “Looking Back at the Epidemic: A Retrospective Study of HIV in Washington, D.C.” addressed a retrospective CBI study of 3,500 HIV sequences from the Washington, D.C. area, with the goal of informing current and future research prospects.

“At the conference, I was able to interact with thousands of other motivated and talented undergraduate researchers, as well as present my work to my peers and their mentors,” Steiner said. “Attending the conference was an amazing way to celebrate and share the exciting work we have done with unique audience of my peers, and I greatly enjoyed engaging in the research community beyond GW.”

Ahn’s presentation covered two projects: “Assessing the gut microbiota response to Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in children with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection,” was the result of work addressing the deficit in research regarding children with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection; and “Investigating the role of gut microbiota in the health of captive and wild black rhinoceros” is the result of a joint venture between CBI and the Smithsonian Institution. The project hopes to look at the implications of diet on the health of the critically endangered black rhinoceros.

“Being an upperclassman attending this conference was not only informative on an educational and social basis, but also eye-opening as students from across the United States came together to present a variety of research topics,” Ahn said. “This conference was my first step, outside of the university, in reaching my goal to spread awareness and interact with those who may be interested in further pursuing research post-graduation.”