STEM fields shine at OCC Research Symposium

OCC student Andrew Nasr (left) was presented first place in oral presentations by Astronomy Department Head Jerome Fang (right) at Orange Coast College’s Giles T. Brown Research Symposium on April 21. Nasr’s project showcased research on causes of breast cancer, and he aspires to continue using this experience in the future doing cancer research. 

Orange Coast College hosted its annual Giles T. Brown Research Symposium on April 21 in the College Center, where 60 students showcased their original research. 

With the help of faculty and staff mentors, students have been working since the fall semester to share their projects in the form of oral presentations, poster presentations and exhibitions of work or performance. 

“This is a year-long event for us to plan for, and it has been so rewarding to see everyone here enjoying all the research and projects that our students have put their hard work into,” Research Symposium Chair and Chemistry Professor Amy Hellman said. 

The symposium was created in 2016 and accepts research from students in any discipline. According to the webpage, over 200 students have participated in this event since it opened, some of which have continued on to win “local and regional awards” with their projects from the symposium.

Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics and Research Symposium Committee Member Michael Sutliff said that since OCC has moved in-person post-pandemic, this event has been able to grow once again. 

“The expansion of the Research Symposium has been incredible,” said Sutliff, “We have people here who really help us navigate, this team has been amazing.”

Third-year biology student Andrew Nasr won first place in the oral presentation category for his project, “A Comprehensive Summary of the Effects of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether on Breast Cancer.” 

Nasr’s research pointed out carcinogens in certain materials and foods that may cause breast cancer to bring awareness to people at risk. 

“My inspiration was my aunt – she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she recovered in her thirties but in her forties, she was diagnosed with liver cancer,” said Nasr. “She unfortunately died at the age of 48.”

Nasr said that in the future, he wants to continue down this path to do more cancer research or become an oncologist. He will be transferring in the fall to a four-year university and aspires to go to medical school after graduating. 

The Ocean Curiosity exhibition by students Michael Shokoohi, Sajjad Sharif and Tam Vo won first place in the exhibition category. This project entailed creating a model ocean exploration vehicle to be able to test the parameters of different locations of ocean water.

Students Lorielle Morgan and Yarin Hagay-Nevel also won first place in the poster presentations category for their project, “What Factors Predict Beliefs in Psychological Myths?” where they researched the psychological origins of people believing myths are true.

“The symposium represents OCC’s unwavering commitment to academic and creative excellence,” Vice President of Instruction Michelle Grimes-Hillman said. “All research takes creativity.”

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