On Friday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in HUB 302, ASUCR’s CNAS senators hosted the  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Research Expo. CNAS Senators TK Nguyen, Carisha Moore, Johnathan Li and Beau Young coordinated the event for students interested in meeting and introducing themselves to researchers on campus looking to hire new research assistants, volunteers and interns.  

Moore, a second-year cell, molecular and developmental biology major, explained how this event was inspired by her own negative experience when trying to obtain a research assistant position. She said she wanted to provide “an easier way to meet professors firsthand through primary contact,” so that STEM students can present themselves and their skills with a confident approach rather than through a generic email.

Jennie Patel, a first-year biology major at the expo, said she wanted to use this opportunity to accomplish her goal of “starting her own research project and this would be a good way to explore what research is currently being conducted at UCR.” Hasel Salvador, another first-year biology major, agreed with Patel stating she had previously contacted professors and labs through email but “it’s better to communicate in person because the response time is so much faster.”

Faculty present at the expo ranged from different departments within CNAS and BCOE. For example, graduate student Amanda Hale from Professor Jessica Purcell’s laboratory in the  Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, graduate student Mark Alber from the Department of Mathematics and graduate student Claudia Chaves Villarreal from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering were in attendance. Each faculty member’s lab was represented at the expo by their graduate students who had set up a presentation to describe various research projects from their labs.

Amanda Hale, a graduate student from Purcell’s laboratory, commented on why the expo is also important for professors to promote their research and incorporate students into different laboratories. “It’s really important to our professors to mentor undergraduates and give them opportunities to do research. That’s how we all started our careers in science because someone gave us a chance, so it really goes back to a teaching aspect,” explained Hale.

“It’s not necessarily that you have a ton of experience in research already. We are interested in getting people the experience that they need for their future too. We want someone that is dedicated to spending time in the lab and learning things and seems to genuinely interested in research,” added Mari West, another graduate student working in Purcell’s lab.

The expo was also a tabling event for other resources and organizations available at UCR for STEM majors, such as Delta Epsilon Mu, a professional co-ed pre-health fraternity for undergraduate students.

“I really hope that students participating in this expo can take their experience to improve their 30-second elevator pitch, to improve their resumes, to improve their professional communication skills and more. I really want it to be a general learning experience, even if they don’t get a research position,” concluded Moore.