Benefiting from International Conferences

Three USF undergraduates present their research at an international congress in Mexico.


USF students Drew Neihart, Paul Riche and Justin Stewart visited the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza, outside Cancun, Mexico.


By Laura Kneski

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2012) – When it comes to summer vacations, three University of South Florida students can talk about mixing a little business with some fun.


Justin Stewart, Drew Neihart and Paul Riche traveled to the Mexican resort of Cancun over the summer to participate in the annual Materials Research Society International Congress, which brings together world class experts working on a broad range of problems ranging from artificial life to affordable and precise biomedical diagnostics.


The three students developed their projects in their Modern Biomedical Technologies class, taught by USF professor Anna Pyayt. In that class students were given the opportunity to work on a new biomedical device proposed by the professor.


Stewart and Neihart were keenly interested in the development of new biomedical nano-sensors that can benefit many patients. Riche centered his research on the design of a single cell, nano-scale endoscope that is used to study cells in ultra-high resolution.


The students stood shoulder-to-shoulder with established professors and business representatives, essentially the “all-stars” of the scientific community, and marveled at some of the presentations that took place over the six days.


“The person who presented before me basically created life from nothing,” Stewart said.


The conference included different scientific symposia and a series of 15 minute presentations. During their presentations, Stewart, Neihart and Riche shared their research and investigation with the noted scholars and business leaders.


“These professors and researchers took some of their time to listen and understand what the project was all about,” Riche said. “What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to represent our research and USF with an international audience.”


Presentations and poster sessions didn’t fill the entire time. The students set aside a day for sightseeing and spent some time immersed in the local culture and a quick trip to the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.


Pyayt said she hopes the success of Stewart, Neihart and Riche will encourage other undergraduate researchers to stretch their learning beyond the classroom.


“It’s a strong positive indicator when a university is represented by its students at key national and international venues,” Pyayt said. “Students’ participation in the conferences is one of the signature features of the top research universities.”