Three Huskie Research Rookies take first steps to transcend ‘rookie’ ranks at Seattle conference

Clockwise from top left: Elaine Rodriguez, Noemi Rodriguez, Emily Prieto and Guadalupe Lopez.

Clockwise from top left: Elaine Rodriguez, Noemi Rodriguez, Emily Prieto and Guadalupe Lopez.

Three Huskie Research Rookies are taking their research to the next level.

Elaine Rodriguez, Noemi Rodriguez and Guadalupe Lopez submitted abstracts based on work they completed in the Research Rookies program to the SACNAS National Conference: “Science, Technology, and Diversity for a Healthy World.”

The trio was accepted as presenters for the conference scheduled from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 in Seattle.

Emily Prieto, director of NIU’s Latino Resource Center, says she is “incredibly proud.”

“This is the first time that NIU students have ever received travel scholarships and ever been invited to present their research at this national conference,” Prieto says. “These students will be able to interact with researchers and scholars from across the country. This will undoubtedly be a life changing experience for them.”

SACNAS is an organization committed to the advancement and achievement of Hispanics, Chicanos and Native Americans in higher education, career placement and leadership development.

The SACNAS National Conference, which is one of the largest of its kind, highlights the work of the nation’s leading minority scientists and connects students with professionals across several STEM industries.

SACNAS logoUnder Prieto’s guidance, the trio of Research Rookies has been playing an important role in starting a SACNAS chapter at NIU. (Prieto also has received support from Lyndon Perkins in the Graduate School to assist in the development of the chapter.)

Meanwhile, sophomores Hector Alvarado and Eric Cuevas, co-founders of the NIU SACNAS chapter, received travel scholarships to attend the SACNAS National Conference in October. Alvarado is majoring in chemistry with a minor in biology; Cuevas is majoring in environmental engineering.

Over the course of the past year, all five students have been working in collaboration with the SACNAS chapter at DePaul University to discuss best practices, recruitment efforts and joint programming at both institutions.

As participants in the Research Rookies program, Rodriguez, Rodriguez and Lopez paired up with faculty mentors in their specific areas of interest and prepared research projects that resulted in a final presentation at NIU’s Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day in April:

  • Elaine Rodriguez
    • “Researching the Factors Involved with the Participation of Hispanics in a Computer Training program”
    • Mentor: James Ciesla
  • Noemi Rodriguez
    • “Child Sexual Abuse by Adolescent Boys: Exploring Prevention Strategies”
    • Mentor: Sally Conklin
  • Guadalupe Lopez
    • “Educational Participation of a Bilingual Family of a Child with Special Needs”
    • Mentor: Maylan Dunn-Kenney

In addition, these three will delve even deeper into their projects throughout the 2012-2013 academic year as continuing Research Rookies.

“We are thrilled to have them serve as mentors for our incoming Research Rookies and to provide them the opportunity to continue their research,” says Julia Spears, director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, which oversees the Research Rookies program.

Applications are still being accepted for new students interested in the Research Rookies program. For more information, call (815) 753-8154 or ugresearch@niu.edu.

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