May 2011

Feting biochemistry and molecular biology


Tennessee Tech University hosts a celebration of biochemistry and molecular biology on the anniversary of Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA. 


Attendees were invited to an interactive undergraduate poster session that was a part of a science café.

The importance of biochemistry and molecular biology as established fields of scientific inquiry and continuing research is obvious when we look around us each day. Our concepts of modern medicine, forensic science, the function of our cells and even the complexities of cooking all are related to biochemistry and molecular biology. The Tennessee Technological University’s Undergraduate Affiliate Network chapter recently commemorated the anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick with an inaugural Celebration of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology event.

The idea sprang from discussions about campus student groups taking part in activities for week-long national celebrations of science, such as the American Chemical Society’s National Chemistry Week. We felt that biochemistry also should have this type of event, because its relevance is evident in our everyday existence and there are so many important accomplishments within the field to share with the students on campus.

We could think of no better day than February 28 – the day that Watson and Crick ran into the Eagle Pub and announced that they had built a model of DNA. It was an unforgettable day for the progress of biochemistry and molecular biology.

We began our celebration with a look at training future researchers in the field. We held a scientific writing workshop conducted by undergraduate students involved in research on campus. “One of the most important things to learn as an undergrad student is how to write scientifically,” says Kathleen Broderick, vice-president of the UAN chapter and workshop coordinator. “The format is completely different from what we are taught in high school English class. This was a fun and interactive activity that gave the participants excellent references and resources, and the best part is that it was done for students, by students.”

After the writing workshop, attendees were invited to an interactive undergraduate poster session that was a part of a science café – a casual and interactive atmosphere for the sharing of ideas, food and roundtable discussions. The discussion topics included the current research done by undergraduates and career spotlights. Our chapter also hosted a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who has been involved in many different areas of biochemistry research, forensics and field work. There also was a chance for collaboration with many other student groups on our campus, including the student members of the ACS, the newly formed Eagle Science Journal Publication Association (the group responsible for the publication of the TTU Journal of Sciences) and the TTU green committee. Discussion topics with these groups included bioinorganic chemistry, biochemical approaches to alternative energy and computational biochemistry.


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