Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Student-run research symposium draws big crowd

By Kritin Karkare

Undergraduate student Lucas Patel presents his
 research. Photos courtesy of Lab Expo. 

The UC San Diego Biomedical Engineering Society hosted its seventh annual Lab Expo in January, drawing upwards of 800 attendees and featuring research from more than 60 labs from a variety of disciplines across campus, including anthropology, electrical and computer engineering, bioengineering and more.

Lab Expo chairs and bioengineering students Daibo Zhang and Jessica Ma spent eight months planning the all-day student-run research symposium meant to develop scientific literacy, promote interdisciplinary collaboration and encourage scientific advocacy.

Keynote speaker Grant Sanderson.
Keynote speaker Grant Sanderson, a math educational Youtuber with 1.6 million subscribers, drew a large crowd while talking about his approach to communicating math more clearly. Sanderson, better known by his Youtube channel’s name, 3Blue1Brown, developed his own mathematics visualization programming library to help viewers get a more intuitive grasp on abstract math concepts like neural networks and the Fourier Transform. He thinks that his visualization-first approach has merit.

“By focusing on clarity of communication, it makes you think more clearly about what it is you’re doing,” Sanderson said. “Whatever piece it might be, if you think about how you present this to an audience, it will shape your own understanding of the context, rather than letting communication be an afterthought.”
A research poster presentation and the keynote speech were just the tip of the iceberg. What better way to practice communicating science than to have graduate students pitch their research in only five minutes?

The second annual Lab Expo Graduate Showdown (LEGS) featured seven students from different departments including cognitive science and mechanical and aerospace engineering, competing to best condense and communicate their research projects.

Lab Expo chairs and bioengineering students
Jessica Ma and Daibo Zhang.
Only one could come out on top: judges picked Andrew Shibata, a first year cognitive science graduate student, as the winner. Based on his experiences listening to the myriad accents and voices in California, Shibata’s research aims to develop a database of voices characterizing the San Diego region, and study how people’s voices change the longer they live in San Diego.

Next up, the Biomedical Engineering Society is hosting their annual Translational Medicine Day on March 6. This event aims to bring together the research and healthcare communities-- including students, faculty and industry-- to bridge the gap between bench and bedside. More information can be found here: https://bmes.ucsd.edu/events/translationalmedicine.html

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