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Biology department shines at regional TriBeta conference

Gathering universities from all over the east coast, Hofstra’s Alpha Lambda chapter of the TriBeta national biological honor society for undergraduate students and the University’s biology department co-hosted the 2019 NE-1 regional conference on Saturday, April 27.


The conference was held in the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center Greenhouse and brought together students from Coastal Carolina University, The College of New Jersey, Manhattanville College, Mount Saint Mary College, Pace University, St. Francis College, State University of New York College at Cortland and the University of Saint Joseph.


This was the first time Hofstra hosted the conference. “It’s an honor, it’s exciting. It’s been a lot of work for everybody, for the students, for us, but it’s absolutely an honor,” said Javier Izquierdo, assistant professor of biology at Hofstra and co-advisor of the Alpha Lambda chapter. “It’s an opportunity to showcase Hofstra, showcase the department.”


Over the course of six hours, students were given the opportunity to present their work and research findings through a variety of formats, including oral and visual presentations.


For those involved, the goal of the conference was to foster learning and opportunity. “I think it is a great experience for them to get a chance to show their work to a relatively friendly crowd,” said Nathan Rigel, assistant professor of biology at Hofstra and co-advisor of the Alpha Lambda chapter. “It’s clearly a biology-heavy conference, but it’s a very difference range of biology represented here,” Rigel said.


Hofstra students who participated in the TriBeta conference focused their research on different areas within the field of biology. “We wanted to see what kind of bacteria are good for the plant in the hopes that we can take this good bacteria and make it into a sort of biofertilizer that will assist in the growth of other plants,” said Joshua Pimentel, a senior biology major. “We look at beach grass in particular, which is a grass species; but I mean, if we could apply this to agricultural crops that that can be pretty cool,” he said.


“Our study examined whether the current conservation efforts are productive in what they are trying to do,” said Penelope Ramos, a senior biology major. “We have all of these thousand-dollar programs trying to educate the public ... so we created about 10,000 randomly generated points across New York City and Long Island and we used Google Earth imagery from 2001 up until 2017.”


“I’ve always been preoccupied with the urban environment, especially because it’s one of the new emerging fronts in biology,” Ramos said. “I would like to go into conservation, so working with maybe the U.S. Forest Service especially or working with New York City parks and getting to educate the public about the importance of trees,” she said, explaining her ideal career.


 “Our role as advisors is to help [students] plan out everything that they want to do for the year. The society also supports a lot of research. The society promotes that students get grants to do their research. Our labs and different students over the years have gotten small-but-important grants that validate their research,” Izquierdo, said. “This is an opportunity for them to communicate their science.”



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