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Undergrads showcase talent, research

RANDY METCALF/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Physiology sciences senior Sara Doelle inspects a 5-day-old rat in a University Medical Center research lab yesterday. Doelle is part of a research study that uses the lab rats to test medicine for intestinal diseases.
By Andy Chang
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 23, 2004
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Students get chance to present their research

Not many people can say at age 21 that they save babies' lives on a daily basis, but that is what Sara Doelle does through a prestigious campus research program.

Doelle, a physiological sciences senior, has studied a common disease in premature babies for a year and a half. The disease, necrotizing enterocolitis, causes gastro-intestinal inflammation and cell death.

Tomorrow, Doelle, along with more than 70 undergraduates and elementary school students, will be presenting their research at the 15th annual Undergraduate Biology Research Conference.

The conference is the culmination of the research students have done for one year as part of the Undergraduate Biology Research Program that teaches students how to apply science learned in the classroom to the real world.

"UBRP is a powerful way to teach science because it applies what they learn in the classroom to unknown questions. The students also get to know a network of people, including graduate students, post-docs and faculty," said Carol Bender, director of UBRP.

Doelle, who eventually wants to apply her research to a career in neonatology or pediatrics, said UBRP has made her classroom studies more meaningful.

EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Graduate student Pieter Rowlette is working on turning waste water from petroleum refineries into useable, nontoxic water. Rowlette is part of the Undergraduate Biology Research Program.

"It gives you a hands-on science experience and brings more meaning to what you learn - and it has a direct impact," Doelle said.

Pieter Rowlette, a chemical engineering junior, is also involved with UBRP, but he is taking a different approach in biological research.

Rowlette's research is based more on learning how to improve the health of the environment.

The research is based on the waste waters that petroleum refiners produce, and using bacteria as a way to reduce the waste into non-toxic compounds. This is better for environmental and health concerns, Rowlette said.

Rowlette said another benefit of UBRP is that it opens new doors to students who never thought of research as a career.

"I never thought I would do research, but I think I will stay in research for a while and maybe go to physician's assistant school in the future," Doelle said.

Many students in the chemical engineering field do not consider research as a career, Rowlette said.

UBRP is a powerful way to teach science because it applies what they learn in the classroom to unknown questions.

- Carol Bender
director of UBRP


"Most chemical engineers go into industry and things like microprocessors, but I am more interested in the research aspect of things," Rowlette said.

The conference will also allow students to meet people in the scientific community of their particular interest.

"The conference will have people from the biotech industry attending and various scientific communities to talk to," Bender said.

The UBRP Conference is also an opportunity for students to become more motivated to do work in research and provide future research ideas.

"The feedback students get when they present often gives them new insight into their projects. The conference also allows us to recognize students' hard work and accomplishments," Bender said. "The UBRP Conference provides students with the opportunity to share what they have learned with each other, the university community and the public at large."

The 15th annual UBRP Conference is tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Approximately 79 undergraduates and additional elementary school children will present their research in a poster session. The keynote speaker will be John Murphy, executive director of the Flinn Foundation.

To get more information about the UBRP Conference, visit or contact Carol Bender.

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