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Undergrads Present Research at First National Minority Conference

Cambridge, MA--About 250 talented college juniors and seniors who are African American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican and Native American have come together to share the fruits of their research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology July 21-23 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.

Many schools complain that they can't find qualified minority candidates for graduate study, explained Margaret Tyler, associate dean for graduate education. "We're trying to increase the pool," she said. "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 Ph.D., she added.

Students are presenting the results of their research on varied topics including "Standardized Testing & Cultural Bias," "Robotics," "Church Influence on Adolescents," "The Role of Serotonin in Lobster Behavior" and "Quantification of Thermochromic Changes in Fluorescent Spectra." Over 75 students will present either a 10-minute oral presentation with question and answer or will offer a poster presentation

Mario Molina, Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Sciences, and Nobel Prize recipient is the keynote speaker for the meeting.

The MIT Summer Research Program was established in 1986. This year the program has 23 students from colleges across the country including Spelman, University of Maryland, Howard University, University of Rhode Island and University of Puerto Rico. Student research will be in aeronautics & astronautics, biology, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering & computer science and several other areas.

The program exposes both parties, teacher and student, to each other, said Tyler. "That's the best way to influence the process."

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