Chemistry major Gary Batres '14 recently traveled to Ames, Iowa, to present a poster on his undergraduate research along with hundreds of other students. What he didn’t expect was to have the favorite presentation among all his peers. Gary won the Student Choice Award for best poster at the 2013 IINSPIRE-LSAMP Conference and received $250. “I ended up getting the most votes,” Gary said. “At first I was surprised that I won, I didn’t expect to win.”
As a partner of the Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education program (IINSPIRE), Doane chose Gary as its first funded summer research minority student last summer. Gary, who is of Hispanic ethnicity, had his research funded by Doane’s chapter of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) IINSPIRE program. This program is an alliance between 16 private, community and state schools in Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa that collaborate to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are the subjects highlighted in this program.
In the lab of Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrea Holmes, Gary conducted his summer research. It was on a system called DETECHIP®, which was developed on Doane’s campus. This system discriminates between different molecules that make up narcotics, steroids, pesticides and explosives by using a sensor. Gary focused his research on using DETECHIP® to detect steroids and metabolic diseases (neonatal and early childhood disorders). He presented his research process and results with DETECHIP® on a poster and found that other students really took to it.
“I think my enthusiasm actually inspired people to vote,” Gary said. “The overall take-home idea was to determine the neonatal diseases inside children... it helped my presentation.”
Physics Professor Chris Wentworth helps organize the IINSPIRE-LSAMP program at Doane. His desire is that more minority students become interested and want to be a part of the program on campus.
“My hope is we will have a student mentor for each incoming freshman and a faculty member to offer encouragement and advice,” Wentworth said.
Gary knows what he wants and intends to work hard to reach his goals. The IINSPIRE-LSAMP conference and program have helped him open new doors, some that one day, might lead him to his dream career of working in a chemical lab.