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Diversity to be Highlighted at Duquesne Undergraduate Research Symposium

A national figure in theoretical physics, Dr. S. James Gates Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland and director of its Center for String and Particle Theory, will address the Duquesne University Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium this week.

Past president of the National Society of Black Physicists, Gates said, "Great science belongs to everyone."

Gates uses mathematical models to explore elementary particles and fundamental forces of nature. He is known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity and superstring theory.

He will deliver the keynote, Uncovering the Codes for Reality, at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 27, in the Pappert Lecture Hall of the Bayer Learning Center, discussing how digital codes, as seen in computer browsers, could be part of the DNA of reality. Students will give oral presentations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by poster presentations from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Mellon Hall patio.

Gates' appearance at Duquesne dovetails with recent attention given to an increased push by the University's Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences to promote ethnic and gender diversity in sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. Dean David W. Seybert connected with Gates through a National Press Club panel discussion on diversity in the sciences, where they both were speaking. This event was organized by the Bayer Corporation..

"Given the interest in our Bayer Scholars program and other diversity initiatives, we're extremely pleased to be able to expose students and faculty to the work of an outstanding scientist and to offer students the opportunity to engage with his ideas," Seybert said. "While this is one high point of the event, the symposium celebrates the high caliber of undergraduate science research in the Pittsburgh region. Students, science faculty and area professionals are invited to share in their discoveries."
Student research, for instance, is examining:

  • The mechanisms of proteins in bacteria that cause gastroenteritis and are linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome in humans, in an effort to develop antibiotics that will fight this infection (Samih Nassif, Barranquilla, Colombia).
  • The replacement of Europium oxide with iron in powdered hematite, which could impact gas-sensing catalysis and energy-related materials (John DiGnazio, Pittsburgh).
  • The role of estradiol, which is associated with the reproductive system in female salamanders. This is important because amphibians are often indicator species for environmental estrogens, which may negatively impact many different species, including humans (Katie Ratay, Mount Lebanon).
  • The roles of three different proteins in persistent/chronic pain (Jarred Stratton, Reading).
  • Ways to predict and prevent the formation of proteins into cataracts, which impacts the vision of more than 1.4 million Americans every year (Sarah Richards, Pittsburgh).

The 15th annual symposium will culminate a 10-week intensive research program that integrates undergraduate students into high-level research teams. The students come from more than 20 institutions across the region in positions funded by grants including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.Institutes of Health.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.