Students Win Prestigious Honors at Scientific Conference


Six Saint Mary's College students received high honors for their scientific research at the annual Sigma Xi conference in early November.

"We are grateful that our scientific peers recognize and value the work that students do here in conjunction with their faculty members." said Dean Brian Jersky. "The School of Science is proud of our hands-on teaching. We think these awards are a testament to the quality of the education that students at Saint Mary"s obtain in the School of Science."

Competing with students from more than 100 colleges and universities, the SMC students made poster presentations at the Sigma Xi Meeting and Student Research Conference in Detroit on Nov. 3 and 4. It was the second consecutive year that all Saint Mary's students attending the event earned awards.

Junior Emily King, senior Annie Chase and senior David Drummond earned "superior" marks, which means their submitted work is of publishable quality. King crafted her superior poster titled "Transport Dynamics Associated with Surface Ozone Concentrations at Remote Locations in Joshua Tree National Park" with the help of Associate Professor of Chemistry Joel Burley.

"I think my project is extremely important, especially since environmental pollution is becoming such an important and critical issue in our world," King said. "The project brings awareness to others, and hopefully others realize that even our precious national parks are heavily polluted."

Chase worked with Associate Professor of Physics Chris Ray on "Optimization of Baseball Swing Parameters for Three Levels of Play," while Drummond teamed with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Chris Jones to create "The Analysis of the Gordon Game."

"I was extremely pleased that our school did as well as we did," Drummond said. "I feel that our School of Science is much stronger than people realize, and it was nice to get some recognition. Other members at the conference said that we swept the conference."

Senior Katie Azevedo ("Surface Ozone Concentration and Weekend Effect Study in Joshua Tree National Park and Surrounding Urban Locations"), who was awarded the College's Joseph P. McKenna Science Award for best poster presentation at a campus ceremony last month, received an "excellent" honor from Sigma Xi along with sophomore Jia Shen ("Manatee Vocalization Computational Analysis") and Michael Pisarek '06 ("Antimicrobial Natural Products from the Red Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus Franciscanus.")

"To me, my project means more than just a summer research project," Pisarek said. "I am very interested in biological study, and I feel it has paved an important road for me for future research and graduate school. It has certainly showed me what it means to do research in the lab and how exciting it can be."

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi promotes excellence in investigation and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. There are nearly 65,000 Sigma Xi members in 100 countries.

"There was such a broad range of science and mathematics represented at this conference," King said. "Sigma Xi did a good job of getting a diverse group of people to attend the conference and really stressed the importance of maintaining diversity in the field of science, whether it's race, gender, religion or interests."

Dean Jersky sees a bright future for Saint Mary's students in Sigma Xi.

"Saint Mary's has a chapter of Sigma Xi on campus, and we will continue to sustain this and thereby contribute to the scientific conversation," Jersky said. "Our success there was not only academic and professional, but also personal. The students bonded together and enjoyed themselves as a confident, fun-loving and cohesive group. We're very proud of them."

--Kevin Damore
Office of College Communications