Samuel Prien, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, started at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in 1980. He remembered the creation of a student-run Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences event in 1988. This year marked the 30-year anniversary of the event, and Prien has served as the event judge for 25 years.
Every year Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students organize Student Research Week to showcase the next generation of biomedical researchers and their work and invite distinguished national and international speakers to present discoveries on a specific theme.
“My earliest one was 1990, and I remember because one of my medical students was involved that year,” Prien said. “Student Research Week has gone through many variations. Back then the posters stayed up for a week on the fifth floor, and the award ceremony was in the old fifth floor classroom. In the beginning, it was mainly about graduate students.”
Brandt Schneider, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, remembers his first Student Research Week in 1998 when he began at TTUHSC.
“Student Research Week is impressive,” Schneider said. “It has grown as big as it can get. We now have to cap it. Growth is important, but the students want to do it right.”
The event has grown from 62 to 250 students and now includes students from all TTUHSC schools including regional campuses. Since it has become so large, Student Research Week is held at the Academic Classroom Building. Five years ago students added a Student Research Week banquet.
“Students have never let the quality of the day go down just because it got bigger,” Prien said. “The one thing that hasn’t really changed is the students are the force behind it. They decide the theme, details and speakers. The students set the judging criteria as well. The process is rigorous, and I applaud them for that. They have set up Student Research Week to be as close as a national research conference as possible. I have been a judge all these years because I am very supportive of the students.”
Thomas Tenner, Jr. Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Medical Education and Department of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, feels the most impressive part of Student Research Week is the speakers that come in for the event.
“The common thread amongst them was the “normalcy” of these great scientists,” Tenner said. “The ability to have informal conversations between our students and these guests has had an important impact on being able to realize that Nobel laureates are human beings, just like everybody else, with the same issues, concerns and insecurities that we all face. They have provided encouragement as well as inspiration to our students, who, in very uncertain times, are just beginning their careers.”
Schneider said this year’s event was a time to enjoy sciences and a huge success.
This year, Antonia Stuebler was the director of the 30th Annual Student Research Week. The committee started working on the event in June with months of planning to make it a successful event. This year’s committee also included Riccay Elizondo, Derek Fleming and Whitni Redman.
The theme for this year’s Student Research Week was, “Protein Chronicles: From Unknown Structures to Essential Functions.” Guest speakers were Francisco Bezanilla, Ph.D., a biophysicist and a Lillian Eichelberger Cannon Professor at the University of Chicago, and Jane Richardson, the James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University.
“It was a time to enjoy sciences,” Schneider said. “We enjoyed the accomplishments of our students and they should be proud. We always hear past speakers say TTUHSC is really impressive.”
2018 Student Research Week Winners
Upper Level Doctoral Students
First: Dylan Meyer
Second: Dattesh Verlekar
Third: Derek Fleming
First and Second Year Doctoral Students
First: Whitni Redman
Second: Sarah Kader
Third: Mariacristina Mazzitelli
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Masters Category
First: Drew Rasmussen
Second: Samantha Curtis
Third: Stephany Navarro
First: Brittany Hoang
Second: Garrett Welch
Residents and Fellows
First: Russell Stanley
Second: Anuhya Vallabhaneni
Third: Teresia Pham
Third- and Fourth-Year Medical Students
First: Tuong Vy Dang
Second: Jeremy Thompson
Third: Niloy Ghosh
First and Second-Year Medical Students
First: Brent Gudenkauf
Second: Emily Bouffard
Third: Rebecca Gabrilska
Dr. Lorenz Lutherer Clinical Research Award
School of Nursing
First: Nicholas Thrash
Second: Ashley White and Valerie Trevino
Third: Michelle Gibson and Anika Lockhart
School of Health Professions
First: Brandi Murphy