Research Symposium prepares students for future

Pujan Dahal

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Siddhartha Hamal Dhakal has always been perplexed by life.

“What differentiates living from dead? Can we one day replace damaged tissues with healthy cells and treat diseases like type-1 diabetes?”

These are the questions that he asked himself as a high school student. For Dhakal, a junior biology major, biology is an opportunity to pursue these questions.

Students, faculty and professors gathered in the library conference center to participate in the annual Research Symposium last Tuesday. The event is for undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. level students from all majors.

Dhakal presented two projects, ‘Role of initiation factor 4A in translation initiation of Giardia lamblia’ and ‘Seasonal Variations in the net ecosystem: Carbon-dioxide exchange of Bottom-Land Hardwood forest in Northeastern Louisiana’ for which he grabbed the gold representing the school of science, undergraduate level.

Dhakal credits his mentors Joydeep Bhattacharjee and Srinivas Garlapati for their relentless efforts which helped him to win. He said that his mentors always encourage him in his experiments

Dhakal, who plans to one day get his Ph.D., is very passionate in biomedical research.

“This project resonates with my academic interests, and I am likely to pursue similar line of research in the future,” Dhakal said.

Dhakal further said that the climate change issue bothers him.

“Carbon dioxide is the driver of climate change. By working in this project, I will not just be broadening my research horizons, but also be doing something meaningful by accessing the information of carbon emission,” Dhakal said.

Dhakal wants to continue his scientific research into the future.

Dhakal said that his research projects at ULM have been crucial in preparing him for the future in many ways. Most importantly, he said, his projects have taught him what expectations people will have from him in his professional journey.

Avery Cunningham, a senior biology major, also participated in the Research Symposium. She wanted to do “pragmatic research” and hence chose to study the anti-parasitic effect of turmeric on Giardia Lamblia.

“Turmeric is a common spice. Using turmeric to cure Giardiasis would be very economical,” Cunningham said.

She said that she thoroughly enjoyed doing the project at ULM.

“The campus environment is very sound and fulfills all of the research requisites.”

Another participant Gillian Holder, junior molecular biology major said that the project was submitted to her by her mentor, Ann Findley over the summer at prep. “I enjoy genetics and viruses, therefore I thought the lab sounded great and decided to take it.”