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Minority student researchers convene at conference here

About 250 talented college juniors and seniors who are African-American, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican and Native American came together to share the fruits of their research at MIT this week at the first National Minority Undergraduate Summer Research Symposium.

These students have been participating in research programs around the country, such as the MIT Summer Research Program, The Leadership Alliance and the Ford/Mellon Minority Summer Research Experience Program. The students have come to MIT from all eight Ivy League schools as well as Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, New York University and Johns Hopkins.

Students presented the results of their research on varied topics including "Standardized Testing and Cultural Bias," "Robotics," "Church Influence on Adolescents," "The Role of Serotonin in Lobster Behavior" and "Quantification of Thermochromic Changes in Fluorescent Spectra." More than 75 students gave either a 10-minute oral presentation with a question-and-answer session or shared a poster presentation.

Nobel laureate Mario Molina, Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Sciences, was the keynote speaker. Dean for Graduate Education David Litster attended a number of the student presentations.

"We're trying to increase the pool," said Margaret Tyler, associate dean for graduate education. "The idea is that the students will come to one of our schools for graduate work." The program provides the students with affirmation and exposure, encouraging them to go on to complete a PhD, she said.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 24, 1996.

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