Martina Velichkovska is an undergraduate student in the laboratory involved in a project on mitochondrial dysfunction. Below is her reflection on participation in research conferences from a point of view of an undergraduate student. 

 

Martina Velichkovska is an undergraduate student in the laboratory involved in a project on mitochondrial dysfunction. Below are her reflection on participation in research conferences from a point of view of an undergraduate student.

Earlier this year, the annual conference by the Society of Personalized Nanomedicine and the “50th Miami Winter Symposium: Stem Cells”, gave me the chance to present my research to senior scientists, and listen to lectures by Nobel laureates and pioneers of their fields which I never thought I would be able to meet in person. Just the fact that I could stand up and ask questions in an auditorium filled with scientists with decades-long careers was an unbelievable opportunity. About a month later, presenting my research at the BMB research day at the UM medical campus was amazing because I got to meet a lot of the post docs and graduate students that are locally available to give me advice on experiments or just to meet up for lunch and talk about research.

Compared to these events where I was one of the few or maybe even the only undergraduate, I also attended three conferences for undergraduates only, which I realized are just as valuable learning experiences as conferences by societies are. In the last one, the annual “ACC Meeting of the Minds”, I faced a new challenge: giving an oral presentation in an auditorium crowded with smart people. I suppose I felt a slight dose of fear but as one of the Deans of Research said in her speech: ''Don't let anything scare you. In fact, if it does scare you, it means you have to do it''. Since I got a lot of questions after presenting, and I was approached by peers doing research in arts, social sciences, or even politics who told me that my research was really interesting, I hope I did it successfully.

Balancing all of these events with being a full time student and spending a lot of hours in the lab is challenging. In fact, this week I had to cancel presenting my poster at an international conference in Chicago by the Society of Neuro-Immune Pharmacology, because it would not fit my exam-busy schedule as this semester approaches its end. I am quite sad about this, because I attended their conference last year and I am sure it would have been another amazing learning opportunity like all of these conferences are. You learn about the latest research, get even more motivated to advance your own project, and create an amazing network of inspiring individuals; which is why I think that presenting at conferences is one of the essential components for one's growth as a researcher.

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