Networking can be difficult at a large university, which is why events that bring people from related fields together can be helpful for students and faculty alike.
In the 16th annual Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Student Symposium, to be held Friday and Saturday, both undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to present their work to peers and faculty.
The symposium is student-run by two co-chairs, Claudia Rojas and Michael Shreve, and a committee of graduate students.
“The symposium encourages interdisciplinary collaboration to solve environmental issues. It’s also a good experience for graduates and undergraduates to interact with each other,” Shreve said.
The deadline to submit an abstract to present was March 1, and the organizers received 50 submissions — 31 poster presentations and 19 oral presentations. Every student that submitted an abstract will have an opportunity to present at the symposium, Rojas (graduate- soil science) said.
Students had the option to submit their abstracts in one of the following categories: Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sciences and Chemistry, Climate and Ecology, and Soils and Geosciences.
The poster presentations will occur during two sessions on Friday, while the oral presentations will occur during two sessions on Saturday. In addition to student presentations, there will be three keynote speakers who will speak about their most recent research, Rojas said.
The keynote speakers are Raina M. Maier from the University of Arizona, William Arnold from the University of Minnesota and Penn State professor John Regan.
This will be the first year with two keynote speakers from outside universities, as in prior years, symposium organizers were only able to invite one from another university, Shreve said.
Regan, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said that during his keynote speech he will discuss his work with bioelectrochemical systems and how microbes interact with an electrode surface and how the system can be used to produce electricity or hydrogen while treating waste. But this isn’t the first year that Regan has attended the symposium.
“This is a great place to meet people and to build relationships with people doing related research,” he said.
For the student presenters, there will be cash prizes for the first and second place presenters in each of the four sessions. There will be a panel of judges — composed of postdoctoral students and faculty from Penn State — to determine the winners, Shreve (graduate- environmental engineering) said.
The event will take place in the Forest Resources Building, and the public is welcome to register to attend the event.