On Thursday, 47 undergraduate students showcased their scientific research at the Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Conference.

Sponsored by the School of Nursing and Health Studies, the conference began with a three hour period, during which participating students were able to discuss their projects with fellow students, faculty members and other interested attendees. The topics of research varied across many scientific fields with a general focus on health studies.

After a series of oral presentations, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and world renowned immunologist, delivered the keynote address. A native of Brooklyn, Fauci spoke of how he developed a fascination for discovery and a desire to care for others at a young age while attending Regis High School in New York City.

Fauci described his own undergraduate experience at Cornell University, as well as his groundbreaking work on AIDS and many other projects while at the NIAID. He left those in attendance with the message to be open to unexpected opportunities because it is often these opportunities that change one’s career path and even one’s life.

“You never know what will happen to you and modify your life,” Fauci said.

The successful conference was a result of the efforts of the Student Planning Committee, which is made up of seven Georgetown students, two faculty advisors and one staff advisor. A member of the Student Planning Committee for four years and this year’s committee chair, Laura Boitano (NHS ’10) played a significant role in the planning of the event.

“Serving on the conference committee as an undergraduate has offered me a unique and rewarding experience. I have had the opportunity to work with my peers and to organize an event that promotes scientific inquiry and leadership in the community,” Boitano said.

NHS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Julie DeLoia was one of the faculty advisers to the committee along with Associate Professor Alexander Theos. DeLoia stressed that the conference was completely the work of Boitano and the Student Planning Committee, and she was excited to see that this year’s conference had such a wide variety of participants outside of NHS.

Although the conference began in 2003 as a small forum mostly for NHS students, according to DeLoia, the conference has expanded significantly since then. This year’s conference displayed research from not only students in the NHS, the School of Foreign Service and the College, but also from students attending five other universities including George Mason University, the University of California at Davis, the University of the District of Columbia and the University of Maryland at College Park.

It is DeLoia’s hope that the Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Conference can continue to grow and attract the scientific work of other undergraduates in the Washington, D.C. area.

“I would love [the conference] to be the District area research conference – and I think we’re getting there,” DeLoia said.”

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