Skyline attends SACNAS conference in Utah


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Elementary and junior high students are always required to do science projects. Students are awarded with ribbons and sometimes are sent to state fairs and conferences. But for most, this is where their experience with independent scientific research comes to an end.

For others, this process of hypothesis-based analysis of scientific data to make a new discovery becomes almost a way of life. Skyline College encourages these students to manifest these goals by presenting them with opportunities on a national level, one being a conference called SACNAS.

SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) is an annual science conference where college students from all over the country present their independent research projects. Students submit their projects and, if chosen, are invited to present along with over 500 other students in front of over 1000 people during the course of the 4-day-long conference. These students also get their work published.

“This conference lets our students see a much bigger academic world: state universities, Ivy League, and major research institutions,” Skyline Biology professor Christine Case said. “Our students get affirmation that their educational experience is similar to that of students everywhere…that all Biology students are working hard to achieve their dreams.”

Among the attendees at SACNAS each year are university recruiters, mentors offering their services, and a multitude of other professionals seeking potential from the young scientists. In this way, the conference provides opportunities for students to advance in their fields of choice.

The process of entering SACNAS begins in Dr. Case’s BIOL 230 class, where students are required to maintain a research project throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, Dr. Case invites the students with the best projects to continue their research for about 7 or 8 weeks during the summer, with the goal of presenting their work at the conference.

This year’s SACNAS conference took place in Salt Lake City, Utah earlier this month from Oct. 9 -12. 13 Skyline students attended the conference this year, and one student, Kyle McCurdy received the first place award for his research project with partner Ashley Tom.

Bio-Chemistry major Bryan Robertson and micro-biology major Jonathan Tolentino also presented their research projects on anti-microbial properties in herbs, using herbal extracts to kill bacteria.

“I want to go to grad school and eventually work in a lab,” Tolentino said. “[SACNAS] is a good opportunity to get information from people in the field.”

Robertson will be heading a SACNAS chapter at Skyline, due to start in about a week or two. The chapter will provide students with information about the conference and help them with their own research in hopes that they’ll be able to present their projects at SACNAS or simply attend the conference for the networking opportunities it provides, and to get a first-hand look at a national competitive science conference.

“We want genuine interest [in SACNAS],” Robertson said. “We don’t want people to join our program because of a free trip.”

Next year’s SACNAS conference will take place in Dallas, Texas.