Molecular biology poster conference brings future scientists together

 Graduate molecular biology students from universities across Lebanon presented their latest scientific research visually, through posters they designed, in a competition at the Second Annual Molecular Biology Poster Conference organized by LAU’s Natural Sciences Department in Byblos on May 14.molecularbio-posters09-01-180.jpg
Students from LAU, the American University of Beirut, University of Balamand, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, and Université Saint-Joseph discussed their topics and honed their communication skills, while researchers from LAU, USEK and the National Council for Scientific Research informed students of their scientific studies during a seminar before the opening of the poster session.

“This event is really unique to LAU,” said Dr. Fouad Hashwa, dean of the Arts and Sciences School in Byblos, adding that for the first time LAU invited students from other universities to participate “with an aim to spread science and exchange latest information in the field.” 

At the Rima Hourani Exhibition Hall, students explained and defended their research on topics such as the prevalence of genetically modified corn in Lebanon; an analysis of breast cancer in Lebanese patients; and anti-tumor effects of wild carrot water extract, while juries Dr. Sima Tokajian and Melissa Ploudre from LAU, Dr. Majida Jalbout from USEK, Dr. Roula Abdel Massih from UOBand Dr. Mireille Kallasi Awad from USJscrutinized their work.molecularbio-posters09-02-big.jpg
LAU student Najwan Fares has been conducting studies for the past two years on a plant found only in Lebanon, the Nasturtium officinalis. “I’m working to see its effect on humans; if it lowers cholesterol, triglyceride, blood sugar, and if it can be a curative or preventative plant for skin inflammation,” said this year’s second runner-up who participated last year as well. 

Dr. Costantine Daher, chair of the Natural Sciences Department in Byblos, explained that such conferences are key platforms for promoting interaction and research. Students also improve the quality of their work and develop new ideas, he said. 

For students like Fares, participation in such conferences is a stepping stone into Ph.D. programs in which such experiences are often required. “This conference is important because it helps us learn more … and go more in-depth in molecular biology,” said Fares.

The evaluation of the posters was based on the topic’s importance, the student’s performance, as well as the poster’s layout, title and design.

USJ student Elise Abi Khalil ranked first, winning $500 donated by the Lebanese Association for the Advancement of Science. The first runner-up,LAU student Rami Abou Zeinab, received a $300 voucher and Fares a $200 voucher, both from Virgin Megastore and donated by Byblos Dean of Students Mars Semaan.