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Oct 12

Undergraduate Experiences at ESOF 2012

Undergraduate students rarely have the chance to attend conferences. However through a National University of Ireland GalwayEXPLORE grant a recent graduate of Biomedical Science at NUI Galway, Lilian Fennell attended the Euroscience Open Forum 2012 and embarked on a new model of collaboration and knowledge exchange for undergraduates.

The project piloted a model where an undergraduate student and an academic attended Europe’s largest general science conference, Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF), as a collaborative team andshared the conference highlights with the NUI Galway undergraduate, academic and research communities.

The project aimed to give an undergraduate student his/her first experience at an international science conference in the company of a mentor who could help the student fully comprehend all topics discussed at the conference and the organization of the conference. Lilian provided daily conference updates via social media, using both twitter and the Exploring ESOF 2012 blog to discuss more specifically the knowledge and ideas presented at the conference sessions she attended.

The academic mentor also provided support in disseminating the conference updates among the different interested NUIG communities. The conference highlights will be used to engage the current staff partner’s undergraduate students in 21st century topics related to the Biotechnology degree.

Lilian described her experience as invaluable and academically rewarding. It is believed that this model of project could be used as a reward for an academic writing competition for example. This could be one way of stimulating the involvement of 3rd and 4th year undergraduates in keeping up to date with scientific questions relevant to our society and engage them in academic writing.

 “Lilian has shared her experiences of this huge event through Exploring ESOF 2012 – her internet blog, Facebook and Twitter.  As you will discover through herblog, Lilian made the most of the conference, attending sessions related to her degree (to name but a few examples such as RNA as a key molecule for the origin of life, stem cells in personalized medicine, the personal genome and the future of medicine, from reading to writing the genetic code), hearing keynote sessions by Nobel laureates like Jules Hoffman and James Watson and high profile scientists including Craig Venter, having the possibility to directly meet with world-renowned scientist, having Porridge with Dr. Eric Karsenti and interviewing Dr Lars Steinmetz.

More recently, Lilian has described her first experience of attending a large scientific conference on Science.ie (http://www.science.ie/science-news/esof-student-experience.html) as well as in SIN –NUIG student newspaper (http://issuu.com/fuzzfuzz/docs/20121001-sin_14-02_web/9).

Muriel Grenon, Honorary Research Lecturer in Cellular Genetics at National University of Ireland, Galway

Background to the EXPLORE ESOF 2012 project:
http://www.su.nuigalway.ie/explore_projects/project/17/euroscience-open-forum-2012/

Blog:
http://esof2012exploreinnovateproject19.wordpress.com/

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