News | December 07, 2015


STEM symposium highlights student research

2 - minute read
Students discuss a research poster in Whitaker Hall.
Students discuss a research poster in Whitaker Hall.

Six students gave oral presentations on topics including water desalination, crime-scene DNA evidence and the effects of urban light on loggerhead turtle hatchlings during the STEM Undergraduate Research and Internship Symposium on Dec. 4 at FGCU.

Students submitted more than 100 abstracts for the event, which included poster presentations and guest speaker and FGCU alumnus Spencer Adams. It was sponsored by the Whitaker Center for STEM Education, FGCU Scholars, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, College of Arts & Sciences and U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering.

The annual forum allows students to discuss their research in an informal setting with faculty, internship providers and members of the community, according to Laura Frost, director of the Whitaker Center and a professor of chemistry.

“Part of a university’s mission is to impart knowledge. The other part is to generate new knowledge,” she said. “We demonstrated that research and discovery are alive and growing in the STEM disciplines at FGCU. As a STEM faculty member I see the same spark and love for research that I experienced as an undergraduate in our students, and I know they will be successful as we fledge them from FGCU.”

More than 100 abstracts were submitted for the symposium on a wide range of STEM-related topics.
More than 100 abstracts were submitted for the symposium on a wide range of STEM-related topics.

Adams (’12, Biology), who works as an epidemiologist in the Florida Department of Health’s Lee County office, spoke about the importance of gaining research experience as an undergraduate. He was firmly on the pre-med track but changed his mind after working with FGCU Assistant Professor Charles Gunnels on a research project involving snakes.

“The most defining moment of my education was doing student research. It changed my life forever,” he said. “My education at FGCU taught me how to work hard to define a problem. That’s how you determine solutions. That’s what we do in science — learn how to find information and critically evaluate it.”

Adams urged students to emulate the skills and attitudes of their professors and “stand on their shoulders” to take knowledge and research to the next level.

“Each of us adds a little different brushstroke to the painting,” he said. “I’m impressed with what I’ve seen here today.”

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