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Chemistry majors share research at ACTC symposium

Over 100 chemistry and biochemistry majors from the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) gathered at St. Catherine University Wednesday for the annual ACTC Summer Chemistry Research Symposium.

The event is intended to build community among ACTC chemistry students and for them to learn more about what local research is being conducted in the field, explains Kim Ha, assistant professor of chemistry at St. Catherine.

“This also provides the students with an opportunity to communicate what they’re doing to an outside audience, and hone their presentation skills. It’s a very friendly audience because the people are also involved in summer research and very interested in what they’re doing,” Ha adds.

Each ACTC school had a student representative who delivered an oral presentation to the entire group. St. Kate’s student Katelyn Caron ’16 presented on “Synthesis and Evaluation of Non-Natural Substrate for Protein Faresyl Transferase.” Caron and Janet Muzulu ’14 received an Excellence in Science award from the Minnesota Academy of Science this past spring for an earlier phase of the research.

While this wasn’t the first time Caron has delivered an oral presentation, it was her first to a large audience.

“It was kind of crazy to present in front of so many people, but it was a great experience," she says. "I also enjoyed seeing what kind of research other students my age are doing and the chance to network a little bit.”

After graduating from St. Kate’s, Caron hopes to start medical science training — a highly competitive dual MD/PhD program — and eventually conduct research on developing medical treatments.

Her advice to other science majors, regardless of their career plans, is to get involved in undergraduate research.

“It gives you some really good, real-world experience,” says Caron. “It’s unique. There aren’t a whole lot of schools — especially at the bigger universities — that have these same opportunities. Take advantage of them while you can.”

Six of St. Kate's students who attended the symposium are in the University's Summer Scholars Program, an intensive 10-week collaborative experience involving faculty and their peers.

St Kate’s student researchers at the symposium this year:

  • Nicole Blanshan ’15, Summer Scholar
  • Meaghan Bruening ’17, Summer Scholar
  • Katelyn Caron ’16
  • Laura Crepeau ’16
  • Safia Hirsi ’16, Summer Scholar and Phillips Scholar
  • Marne Louters ’14, Summer Scholar
  • Elicia Olson ’16, Summer Scholar and Clare Boothe Luce Scholar
  • Yenchi Tran ’16, Summer Scholar

More about ACTC

The Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) advances collaboration, implements sustainable models and methods, and enhances the academic excellence of member institutions in celebration of the urban liberal arts experience.

Member institutions include Augsburg College, Hamline University, Macalester College, St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas. The five ACTC colleges began collaborating informally in the 1960s through student-led cross registration. A few years later, the presidents formalized their commitment to sharing and enriching academic offerings to ACTC students; the consortium was officially incorporated in 1975.


Related content:

St. Kate's student receives prestigious Phillips Scholarship

St. Kate's students receive Minnesota Academy of Science awards

Students represent St. Kate's at national research conference

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July 17, 2014 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Faculty, Liberal Arts, STEM, Students