September 17, 2021

Science Symposium Showcases Research That’s Making a Difference

Junior Karissa Highlander is one of 25 Mary Washington students participating in UMW’s Summer Science Symposium tomorrow. The event showcases months of student research aimed at finding solutions to real-world problems.

Junior Karissa Highlander is one of 25 Mary Washington students participating in UMW’s Summer Science Symposium tomorrow. The event showcases months of student research aimed at finding solutions to real-world problems.

University of Mary Washington junior Karissa Highlander has spent the summer researching an infectious illness. But not the one scientists have been focused on for the past 18 months.

Instead, Highlander, a biomedical sciences major, has been working on new treatments for tuberculosis. Though rare in the United States, antibiotic resistant strains of the deadly disease are prevalent in developing countries. “This research could provide protection to individuals living in areas with high rates of infection.”

Her study – along with that of 24 other undergraduates – were on display Wednesday at UMW’s Summer Science Symposium. The event, held via Zoom, showcased months of student research aimed at finding solutions to real-world problems. Alongside their professors, they’ve been exploring topics like the cancer-fighting potential of over-the-counter drugs, disease-causing parasites in tropical climates, toxicity of plastics and the impact of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems.

The 10-week Summer Science Institute (SSI) gives students from six disciplines – biology, chemistry, computer science, Earth and environmental sciences, physics and mathematics – a jumpstart on projects they’ll continue throughout their college careers.

“Independent research gives UMW students the opportunity to see the impact their work can make on the scientific community at large,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Davis Oldham. “The experiments they’re doing today – working with cells, analyzing mixtures, writing code – may one day lead to big discoveries.” Read more.