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URSI Symposium features lecture on structural biology and showcases summer science research, September 30, 2009

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY-The annual Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) Symposium will be held on Wednesday, September 30, at Vassar College. The program will showcase collaborative experiments, explorations, and critical analyses by students and faculty from the ten-week summer program. Lawrence Shapiro, associate professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University, will give the keynote address. The program will held in the Villard Room of the College Center in Main Building.

The symposium will open at 3pm with introductory remarks by Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Chenette and Joseph Tanski, associate professor of chemistry and URSI director. Students and professors will then present the results of their summer research at 3:15pm. Some of the research topics include the ecosystem of the Casperkill, eco-immunology through the study of amphibians, and how the brain recognizes objects.

Following these presentations, Professor Shapiro will discuss "The Revolution in Structural Biology and What it Means to You," in his keynote address at 4:15pm. The symposium will conclude with the poster session on summer research at 5:15pm.

For additional information about some of the summer 2009 URSI projects, visit Vassar's YouTube channel.


The focus of Dr. Shapiro's research is on the structural biology and protein biochemistry of (1) proteins that mediate intercellular adhesion, and (2) systemic energy regulation and its failure in obesity and type 2 diabetes. He is vice chairman of the User Executive Committee of the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and co-director of the New York Structural Biology Discussion Group. He is also a co-principal investigator in the New York Structural Genomics Research Consortium (NYSGXRC), part of the NIH Protein Structure Initiative. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University.


Vassar's Undergraduate Research Summer Institute is an intensive 10-week summer program in which Vassar students explore original hands-on scientific research under faculty direction. URSI participants are engaged in the entire research process: they learn to formulate hypotheses, review scientific literature, develop experimental protocols, handle major instrumentation, gather data, analyze results, and present their findings.

Founded in 1986, URSI is among the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific research programs. Every year, over one hundred individuals participate, and in so doing, a community of scientific scholars is created and nurtured. Weekly URSI events such as student presentations and social gatherings support the rigorous daily work of each group. Each fall, the research is displayed and discussed at the fall symposium.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available online.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

2009 Undergraduate Research Summer Institute Symposium

September 30, 2009 / Villard Room

Schedule of Events

3:00pm      Introductory Remarks: Jonathan Chenette, dean of the faculty, and Joseph Tanski, URSI director and associate professor of chemistry

3:15pm   Students' Oral Presentations on Summer Research:

I.               "Get in Shape: Understanding How We Recognize Objects"
Margo Kinneberg '11 and Professor Jenny Magnes

II.             "Eco-Immunology: Effects of Nutrition and Stress on Immune Function in Amphibians" Samuel Black '12 and and Professor Erica Crespi

III.           "Killer Chloride:  How the Casperkill is Becoming the World's Smallest Ocean"

 Katie Interlichia '11, Jeremy Teperman '11, and Professor Kirsten Menking

4:15pm   Keynote Address: "The Revolution in Structural Biology and What it Means to You"

Lawrence Shapiro, Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia University

5:15-6:45pm      Poster Session on Summer Research

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, September 10, 2009