Microbiologist, Cave Explorer to Speak at Student Research Symposium

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Saint Joseph’s University chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, is hosting its 21st annual Student Research Symposium on Friday, April 23. The symposium includes research presentations by undergrad and graduate students and will feature microbiologist and cave explorer Hazel Barton, Ph.D., as the keynote speaker. In her presentation, titled "Amazing Caves: Amazing Microbes," Barton will discuss her work studying the interactions of microbial species in cave environments.

Barton, Ashland Professor of Integrative Science at Northern Kentucky University, estimates that in her 20 years of cave exploration she has visited between 500 and 1,000 caves in various countries including Guatemala, New Zealand, and Venezuela.

While the dark caves she ventures into may appear void of life, they are teeming with microorganisms that have to find ways to produce and save energy, despite the lack of sunlight. Barton studies these organisms, hoping that they will contribute to a larger body of research. Currently, the organisms she studies are influencing research in drug discovery, production of clean drinking water, global warming, astrobiology and planetary protection.

Julia Lee, Ph.D., president of the SJU Sigma Xi Chapter and assistant professor of biology, calls Barton “an extraordinary scientist in her field” and is excited that the SJU community has the opportunity to hear her speak.

The symposium is also a chance for students to present their own work, and view the work of their peers. Student submission is open to both undergraduate and graduate students working on research in the areas of mathematics, computer science, engineering, natural and social sciences.

Check-in for the symposium begins at 3 p.m. in the foyer of Campion Student Center. From 5-6 p.m. Dr. Barton will be awarded the Clavius Award and will give the Keynote address in Wolfington Teletorium in Mandeville Hall. It will be followed by a reception for Dr. Barton in the hall foyer of Mandeville Hall. Students will present the posters displaying their research projects from 6:45 - 8:15 p.m. in various rooms in Campion Student Center. The symposium will come to a close with a buffet dinner at 8:30 p.m.

Students participating in poster submissions must have registered online and paid the submission fee by Fri., April 9. The keynote address is free and open to the public.

For more information visit http://www.sju.edu/academics/cas/resources/srs/.  


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