Drosophila Research Conference Opens Door for Local Undergrads


Newswise — CHICAGO, IL– March 8, 2012 — Most of us can remember doing an elementary school science fair project and then standing up before our classmates to explain what we did. What most students don’t realize is that this is the beginning step toward what real life science researchers do when they attend a professional research conference: they stand up in front of their colleagues and explain their research. Today, about two dozen undergraduate students and their professors from the Chicago area will get a first-hand look inside the Genetics Society of America’s (GSA’s) 53rd Annual Drosophila Research Conference by attending some of these talks as part of GSA’s Genetics Conference Experience (GCE).

The GCE was developed for undergraduate students not conducting scientific research and who attend institutions near the location of the GSA-sponsored meetings that highlight research on key genetic model organisms. Students spend half a day at the conference, talking with genetics researchers and hearing talks about ongoing research.

The GCE “is meant to give undergraduate students who are not currently involved in scientific research a glimpse into the real world of genetics inquiry—in this case, using fruit flies as a model organism—and provide them with an opportunity to learn about current scientific research outside of a textbook. We hope participating in the conference helps further student interest in science and careers in research,” says Adam Fagen, PhD, executive director of GSA.

The annual Drosophila Research Conference, in Chicago from March 7-11, highlights biological research, by geneticists from all over the world, on one of the most studied model organisms. The group of pre-registered undergraduates will receive a background lecture from Professor Jennifer Kennell, Ph.D. (Vassar College) who will talk about fruit flies, how they are used as model organisms, and how discoveries using flies has led to breakthroughs in human research. Dr. Kennell will also prepare students for the three presentations they will hear as part of the conference: talks on embryonic development, aging, and the migration of monarch butterflies.

The students participating in the GCE program attend DePaul University and Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, South Suburban College in South Holland, Waubonsee Community College in Aurora, and Lewis University in Romeoville—all in Illinois—and the University of Wisconsin–Parkside. The GCE program is organized by Elizabeth Ruedi, Ph.D., GSA’s director of education and professional development. In addition, GSA provides educational programs for undergraduate researchers who present the findings of their research at the meeting as well as special programs for graduate students, postdoctoral associates and genetics educators who attend the conference. For more information on the educational programming at GSA’s Drosophila Research Conference, please see www.drosophila-conf.org/2012/pages/education.shtml.

ABOUT THE GSA DROSOPHILA RESEARCH CONFERENCE: At least 1,500 researchers attend the annual GSA Drosophila Research Conference to share the latest research using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and other insect species. Many of findings from these model organisms have broad application for the study of human genetic traits and diseases. For more information about the conference, see www.drosophila-conf.org/2012/.

ABOUT GSA: Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional membership organization for scientific researchers, educators, bioengineers, bioinformaticians and others interested in the field of genetics. Its nearly 5,000 members work to advance knowledge in the basic mechanisms of inheritance, from the molecular to the population level. The GSA is dedicated to promoting research in genetics and to facilitating communication among geneticists worldwide through its conferences, including the biennial conference on Model Organisms to Human Biology, an interdisciplinary meeting on current and cutting edge topics in genetics research, as well as annual and biennial meetings that focus on the genetics of particular organisms, including C. elegans, Drosophila, fungi, mice, yeast, and zebrafish. GSA publishes GENETICS, a leading journal in the field and a new online, open-access publication, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. For more information about GSA, please visit www.genetics-gsa.org. Also follow GSA on Facebook at facebook.com/GeneticsGSA and on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.


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