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Undergrads gather to present extensive research

For the past year, Mary Jolene Holloway has conducted research to find a reason why the HIV virus doesn’t progress to AIDS in some patients. Holloway discovered that locating where antibodies are binding with HIV protein is important for fighting the virus.

A junior majoring in microbiology, Holloway isn’t the only USF undergraduate to have conducted extensive research. Thursday, around 80 undergraduates will present research in the subjects of natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities during the Anne and Werner von Rosentiel Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Georg Kleine, associate dean of USF’s Honors College, said undergraduates were selected to participate in the symposium based on the originality of their research, as well as the significance and relevance of their work. Students will be judged on the same aspects Thursday when they are given 15 minutes to present papers. Other research will be presented on posters to be displayed in the Marshall Center Ballroom.

“Grad students have done this forever and undergraduates a lot in the past, but we haven’t really seen (undergraduates) presented in a symposium,” Kleine said.

Students selected for the symposium conducted the research as part of a class assignment or during directed research with a faculty member, Kleine said.

Holloway said a discovery class she took after high school motivated her to perform the research.

The junior, who is also president of the undergraduate research board, will present her 10-page paper titled “An Investigation into the Specific Binding Domains and Neutralizing Effects of Non-Progressor Sera on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.”

Holloway, who participated in last year’s symposium, said it’s exciting to present research with a group of undergraduates to professors who may be researching similar topics.

Kleine said last year’s symposium generated enough success for the Honors College to decide to hold another symposium this year. Kleine said more than 300 people attended last year’s, including USF President Judy Genshaft, who plans to attend Thursday.

Kleine said $8,000 will be dispersed among 40 winners, with the largest award amounting to $300.

“We hope this year’s success will spawn to next year’s success,” Kleine said.

The symposium begins at 8 a.m. today in the Marshall Center.

Oral presentations of papers run from 8:30-noon in rooms 269, 270, 271 and 296. A judging of poster presentations will be from 10 a.m. to noon.