Most people go to New Orleans for the parties, drinks, and world renowned cuisine. Who would have known that it could have served as the 2017 host city for the American Society for Microbiology conference? Melinda Reissig and Kurtis Born! They had the assistance of Student Research and Professional Development (SRPD) Funds to have an opportunity of a lifetime. They presented their partnered research at an annual conference in New Orleans, LA. Not only did they present but they received great feedback to make their future research stronger. Hear what they have to say:
This summer, thanks to the Student Research and Professional Development Fund program, we were able to attend the American Society for Microbiology, Microbe 2017, a conference in New Orleans with everything nerds like us require to regenerate our geekiness. We were not only there to indulge in the conference, but also to present a poster detailing the research that we had been working on for over half a year. Our research was a massive collaboration between four schools; Western New Mexico University, Glendale Community College, Arizona State University, and the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. Together we used the MALDI-TOF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/ Ionization – Time Of Flight) mass spectrometer to supply the eager scientific world with data proving that this should be the ideal method of seeking relationships between bacteria strains.
After much anticipation, the day to leave for Louisiana finally arrived. We were eagerly whisked away by a United Airlines Airbus A320 to our destination- New Orleans, Louisiana. We had envisioned a beautiful city with historical artifacts around every corner, and we were not disappointed. There were quaint little parks sprinkled throughout the city with memorial statues to commemorate the long and rich history of the area. Historic streetcars buzzed back and forth filled with tourists and locals awaiting their final destinations. Off in the distance we could hear the bellowing echo from a steam whistle indicating the Natchez, a steam-powered stern-wheeler, was departing from the harbor. We were greeted by the beautiful architecture of the Pontalba Buildings surrounding Jackson Square, old worn-down factories from the long ago industrial era, and the newly reinstated Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium what was formerly known as the United States Custom House. We were fortunate enough to stay at a hotel that was only a few steps away from the historic Custom House, and about a ten-minute walk from the mighty Mississippi river.
When the moment finally came to present our research we found the immediate area around our poster was a perfect microcosm of the universal application of science. We had casual conversations about our work with fellow undergraduate students mixed with the intimidating and in-depth discussions with passerby professors. We spoke with the other presenters around us, which included students representing everywhere from North Dakota and Nevada to Pakistan and Sweden. We had the opportunity to learn about their projects and pass along what we had learned from our own. It was a great opportunity to test our own understanding under questioning from much more knowledgeable people in the field of microbiology, and we also received some valuable tips and ideas for future research directions.
We wish to personally thank SRPD, the student, for this one of a kind opportunity. This trip, this experience, and the memories we are left with would not have been possible without the SRPD Fund. We urge the students of WNMU to take advantage of the SRPD Fund program so that you too may also gain confidence in your field of study while making connections that may lead to some amazing future opportunities. Along the way to achieving your goals, if you are ever in New Orleans you simply must have an Alligator Po’ Boy with a cup of Chicory coffee to wash it down.
Article written by: Melinda Reissig and Kurtis Born