Poster Day Showcases Student Work

Nathalie Walker, Carolynne Keenan
People viewing scientific posters.

By Nathalie Walker, Guest Writer, and Carolynne Keenan, Contributing Writer

On July 31, NCI at Frederick hosted Student Poster Day, an annual event in which student interns can showcase the work they do in their various positions in NCI at Frederick labs and offices.

Participating students are interns in the Student Internship Program, a program designed for undergraduate and graduate students during their summer breaks, as well as interns in the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program (WHK SIP), a program for high school seniors. All the students have an opportunity to present their scientific posters.  

This summer’s event brought together nearly 50 NCI at Frederick students, each of whom created a scientific poster on his or her research. The posters were showcased in three sessions, each with about 15 students presenting.

NCI at Frederick employees as well as the public were encouraged to attend the event and to ask the students questions. “Both students and scientific staff enjoy the opportunity Poster Day affords because it takes place in a familiar environment, in an informal setting, and without the pressures students may expect at larger scientific conferences,” said Andrea Frydl, public affairs specialist, Office of Scientific Operations, said.”

WHK student intern Priya Stepp, who works in the Small Animal Imaging Program/Pathology Histotechnology Laboratory with mentor Joseph Kalen, Ph.D, was one of the presenters. At the event, Stepp said, “Not many people get to live close by a lab [such as NCI at Frederick] and explore a career in science.  This was a great way to feel out the field, to see if I like this as a profession.” Stepp’s poster was entitled “Using Echocardiography to Quantitate the Effects of Potential Therapeutic Drugs on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.”

Noah Pritt, also a WHK student intern and poster presenter, works with mentor Ruth Nussinov, Ph.D., in the Cancer and Inflammation Program. Pritt appreciated the chance to meet and talk with the NCI at Frederick scientists during his poster session. “I’m enjoying getting to know the scientists—mainly having regular conversations with them, along with learning about their research,” he said.

Pritt added, “I enjoy interacting with the variety of scientists from different backgrounds.” Pritt presented the poster “MI-KEGG: Integrating the KEGG Database with Genetic Mutational Information.” His poster explained that the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database is a collection of protein transcription pathways showing how genes and proteins are linked to higher-level functions in the cell.

A researcher and a student discussing a scientific poster.Two researchers and a student discussing a scientific poster.A student explaining her scientific poster.Two researchera and a student discussing a scientific poster.

(Above: Student Poster Day at NCI at Frederick.)

Mentors and staff seemed to appreciate the enthusiasm and energy students brought to the event. “I’m always amazed by the enthusiasm and creativity that students exhibit when they express their contributions to complex scientific topics,” said Walter Hubert, Ph.D., scientific program director, Office of Scientific Operations. “When dealing with the bigger pictures, students are not hampered by the fear of showing what does not work. Students who are young in their careers are enthusiastic to present the process alone, not what the scientific results merit.”

Nonscientists also seemed to enjoy the displays and interaction between students and attendees. “What a great opportunity for young, aspiring scientists,” Frydl said. “They can get a taste of what it is like to present scientific results and learn how to communicate publicly. These are important skills for young people to learn, so I am happy to see NCI at Frederick supporting opportunities like this for them.”

To see photos from the NCI at Frederick Student Poster Day, visit:  https://www.training.nih.gov/summer_poster_day_2014_slide_show.

NIH Student Poster Day Draws More Than 800 ParticipantsStudents and researchers discussing posters.

More than 800 interns and students across NIH participated in the Student Poster Day in Bethesda, Md., on August 7. The event drew participants from the WHK SIP, the Student Internship Program, and other internship programs from around the NIH community.  Students showcased the research or work they did during their internships.  Several interns and students from NCI at Frederick were in attendance and participated in the day’s activities.

Nathalie Walker, an NCI at Frederick WHK student intern who attended the event, noticed that students seemed to gain confidence from presenting their work. “One of the best parts about this opportunity is that it gives the students a chance to let others appreciate all the hard work they have been doing. I’ve seen many students walk into the Poster Day with their heads down because they are nervous, and walk out with their heads held high because it makes them feel good,” she said.

(Above: Student Poster Day at NIH, Bethesda, Md. Photo courtesy of the Office of Intramural Training and Education.)

Nathalie Walker, a senior at St. Maria Goretti High School, is a Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern who works in the NCI at Frederick Office of Scientific Operations with mentor Melissa Porter.

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