CCS Students at ABRCMS

November 16, 2017

Three CCS students selected for the Biomedical Conference’s Top Presentation Award


Rachel Liu (left), Colin Kim (center), and David Lowe (right) at ABRCMS
Rachel Liu (left), Colin Kim (center), and David Lowe (right) at ABRCMS

Three College of Creative Studies (CCS) students attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held November 1-4, 2017 in Phoenix, AZ. Rachel Liu (CCS Biology), Young Hun (Colin) Kim (CCS Chemistry-Biochemistry), and David Lowe (CCS Biology) each presented research and were recognized with Top Presentation Awards. In addition to scientific sessions, the national conference provides professional development workshops, posters, and exhibits of graduate programs and funding opportunities in the biomedical sciences. All three students intend to pursue graduate studies and noted that their experience at ABRCMS was useful for networking and provided an exceptional opportunity for honing their science communication skills.

Liu and Lowe are both UC-LEADS scholars while Kim is a UCSB NIH-MARC and Amgen Scholar. These programs support increasing access to research careers for students from underrepresented backgrounds. CCS Interim Dean Kathy Foltz emphasized that the opportunity to work in UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Professors’ research labs is key to these programs and to CCS and that the research mentors provide an invaluable service. “UCSB is well known for the opportunities the campus provides to young scientists to work as part of research groups,” said Foltz. “We are all grateful for the time, resources, and personal investment that faculty and their lab members put into mentoring undergraduates in their labs.” Foltz also noted the value of gaining experience in labs on other campus’ through these programs, especially in that they offer a window into what the graduate programs have to offer.

Kim presented research he conducted as an Amgen Scholar at Stanford University this past summer in Christina Smolke’s laboratory, investigating the Directed Evolution of an O-methyltransferase for Benzylisoquinoline Alkaloid Biosynthesis in Yeast. Kim noted that ABRCMS is a space where “scholars share their successes and failures of research and creative ideas with each other.” He plans to continue to contribute to this community. Now back at UCSB, he is continuing his research in the lab of Professor Irene Chen under the guidance of postdoctoral scholar Huan Peng and PhD student Samuel Verbanic in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Liu, a researcher in the laboratory of Professor David Valentine in the Department of Earth Sciences, is directly mentored by PhD student Eleanor Arrington. As a UC-LEADs Scholar, Liu spent the past summer at UCSF working in Professor Joseph DeRisi’s laboratory and gave a talk on Elucidating the Cause of Epidemic Beak Deformities Across Species: Poecivirus in North American Birds with Avian Keratin Disorder. Liu noted that giving a talk gave her “great confidence in [her] ability to communicate science clearly and compellingly. As a prospective graduate student, ABRCMS was an exceptional opportunity to connect with both students and graduate schools from across the U.S.”

Lowe also spent the summer at UCSF as a LEADs scholar. He conducted research in the laboratory of Professor Peter Walter and presented a poster on his project entitled The Cytoplasmic Linker of the Human IRE1a is Required in the Unfolded Protein Response. A researcher in the Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Professor Denise Montell’s group here at UCSB, he also stressed that the ABRCMS meeting was an “outstanding opportunity to meet and talk with graduate admissions, faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and research scientists in the industry.”

Congratulations to these CCS students and their research mentors!