16th Annual Darwin Day is Tuesday February 3rd!


VCU Graduate Organization of Biology Students, Graduate Student Association, and the Department of Biology presents the 16th Annual Darwin Day. This university sponsored event is held around Darwin’s birthday, and is a celebration of his life and contributions to modern science. This year it is our great honor to present Evolutionary Ecologist Robert Ricklefs, PhD who will be speaking on “Darwin’s Wedge Metaphor and the Development of Community Ecology”. The event is open to scientists, students, and the public. It will be held in Commonwealth Ballroom B, at 11:00 AM – refreshments provided.

For more information on Dr. Robert Ricklefs check out his website:http://www.umsl.edu/~ricklefsr/

Call for Submissions: Auctus, the Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship at VCU!


Auctus: The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creativity is student-run and peer-reviewed. Auctus accepts submissions from VCU undergraduates in all disciplines. The journal welcomes submissions of research articles, technical papers, expository articles and works of creative scholarship including visual art, music, creative writing, film and multi-media projects.

Who Can Submit?

Undergraduate students enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University may submit toAuctus. Graduates may submit research up to two years after graduation as long as the research was conducted as an undergraduate while attending VCU.

What Can I Submit?

Auctus accepts submissions from all disciplines. The editors of Auctus encourage submissions of both original work as well as reprints, if permitted by the original publisher. In the case of reprints, please provide us with the original publication information so that we may provide appropriate credit.

Multiple submissions are welcome, but only one submission per author will be published each semester. Simultaneous submissions with other publications are also accepted. Accepted authors grant the journal one-time electronic serial publishing rights. Authors retain all copyright.

Auctus evaluates research using VCU’s definition of undergraduate research.If you are unsure whether your submission fulfills these guidelines, please contact auctus@vcu.edu.

Guidelines for Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM Submissions:

  • Research that engages local, regional or international communities is encouraged within all three topic disciplines.
  • Humanities topics include (but are not limited to) history, linguistics, languages, literature, philosophy, ethics, logic, mass communications and religion.
  • Social science topics include (but are not limited to) anthropology, archaeology, cultural and ethnic studies, economics, education, gender/sexuality, geography, political science, policy, business, psychology and sociology.
  • STEM topics include (but are not limited to) astronomy, earth sciences, chemistry, physics, computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering, environmental science and health care.

Guidelines for Creative Submissions:

  • Works that engage local, regional, or international communities are encouraged.
  • Works that combine media or genres are encouraged.
  • A single submission may contain one piece or a series of pieces that are interconnected.
  • Creative submissions should be accompanied by an artist statement.
  • Visual and performing arts include (but are not limited to) music compositions, dance performance documentations, fashion design, sculpture, photography, paintings, prints, illustrations, crafts, graphic arts, film and kinetic imagery.
  • Literary arts include (but are not limited to) literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry that experiments with the form and function of the genre or, in other ways, investigates the creative process.

Visit Auctus and submit your work at http://www.auctus.vcu.edu/

Undergraduate researchers present research findings on a national stage


Friday, Jan. 16, 2015

In early November 2014, at a prestigious national research conference, Virginia Commonwealth University junior Michael Kiflezghi presented his research into the molecular biology of aging. Kiflezghi’s appearance is just one of the latest in a string of accolades earned by VCU students taking part in a pair of programs that support aspiring scientists from underrepresented groups.

“My primary research interest is the molecular biology of how we age. What’s going on at the cellular and molecular level that leads to aging? More specifically, I’m interested in the effect of dietary control like caloric restriction on aging and the gut microbiome’s role,” said Kiflezghi, who presented his paper, “Microfluidic Devices for the Study of Dietary Influences on Life History Traits in Caenorhabditis elegans,” at the Gerontological Society of America’s 67th Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

“In laymen’s terms, I was developing microenvironments made of a special breathable plastic and glass that would allow for very in-depth studies on the nematode C. elegans — think microscopic worm,” said Kiflezghi, who is pursuing a dual degree in information systems at the School of Businessand bioinformatics in VCU Life Sciences.

Kiflezghi is among a group of VCU students participating in National Institutes of Health-funded undergraduate research training programs at VCU that support students who are historically underrepresented in the biomedical sciences.

The research training programs, which are part of the VCU Center on Health Disparities, are theInitiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Scholars Program and Minority Access to Research Careers.

As part of the IMSD program, participants have the opportunity to work with faculty mentors who are leaders in the fields of neuroscience, cancer biology, metabolic diseases, allergy and immunology, microbial pathogenesis, drug addiction or abuse, molecular genetics and more. The scholars, who are admitted as early as the end of their freshman year, also enroll in a series of courses and workshops on biomedical science, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination and career development.

The MARC program specifically targets academically talented VCU juniors and seniors from underrepresented groups who are interested in biomedical research careers. Each participant is paired with a faculty mentor, works in research laboratories and attends courses and workshops that prepare them for research careers.

Both programs provide the scholars with the chance to conduct research and present their findings at local, regional and national research meetings.

This fall, Kiflezghi was one of three scholars who presented their work at national research conferences.

“It’s very rare for undergrads to present their work at national discipline-specific meetings,” said Sarah Golding, Ph.D., an instructor in the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and associate director of undergraduate research training for the Center on Health Disparities. “I’ve been involved in this research training program for four years now. This is the first time we’ve had three. Last year, two people presented. And the year before that, there was one person. It’s been a snowballing effect.”

Brittany Martinez, a senior biomedical engineering student in the School of Engineering, presented her research at the national Annual Meeting of the American Biomedical Engineering Society in San Antonio, Texas, in October.

“It was the most humbling experience in my research career,” she said. “I absorbed so much knowledge, and I came back and created new experiments to try just based on what I heard at the conference. I truly got the experience of a lifetime.”

The best part of the conference, Martinez said, was when a third-year Ph.D. student from Clemson University told her that her poster was the highlight of the conference.

“She told me that I had made an impact on her view of her own experiments that she would go back and try to incorporate my reasoning into her design,” she said. “I had never been given such a compliment about my science before. I knew I was there to learn from other researchers, but I never thought someone would learn something from mine.”

Read the rest of this story at the VCU News site: https://news.vcu.edu/article/Undergraduate_researchers_present_research_findings_on_a_national

Call for Abstracts: VCU Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity!

Organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and part of VCU Student Research Week, the annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium is a wonderful opportunity for students to present their research endeavors to their academic peers, members of the VCU faculty, community members, and friends and family.  All undergrads from every discipline are encouraged to present and attend.  Presentations may be for completed research projects, completed papers, or research in progress.

Projects involving creative work such as prose or poetry, performances, and artwork will be considered for acceptance if they are part of a scholarly project undertaken by the student.  We are currently accepting poster abstracts up until the deadline of March 18th, 2015.  All abstracts should be submitted to http://go.vcu.edu/uroppostersubmit

After students are notified of their acceptance, we will accept electronic file submission of their posters until the deadline of April 5th.   Note: We hold poster workshops Jan. – Mar. and we are now able to print research posters free of cost to our students!

Abstracts should include: Name/Major of student, Name/Dept. of Faculty Mentor, Title of research Project, Brief description of research project.  All inquiries to hhill@vcu.edu

symp flyer

Undergraduate Research Positions with the Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics


Description of the research:

The goal of this study is to learn more about genetic and environmental factors that could influence the likelihood of someone developing an anxiety/mood disorder.  To help accomplish this, we are inviting parents and their twins, ages 9 to 13 years old, to participate in this study.

Description of Duties:

The research assistant would have a great deal of involvement in the day to day details of running a research study. Responsibilities may include the following:

  • Extensive participant interaction (administering an IQ test, collecting DNA samples, presenting behavioral and computer tasks)
  • Working with psychophysiological software and equipment (BIOPAC and E-Prime)
  • Early data monitoring/quality control

If the student matches well with this project, there is potential for publishing opportunities for posters and papers.

Required hours/week: 10 hours/week

Eligibility requirements:

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher required

  • Candidates must demonstrate an ability to learn quickly, work diligently, and interact in a professional and personable manner

The application can be found by visiting this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1itaXAnzIkgNX4X1Nkcclite8JktpXQE-oOCl_9c9DzU/pub.

If interested, please complete this form and email it as an attachment to the study coordinator at dcarney@vcu.edu.