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Visuals generate interaction at molecular biology poster conference


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Dr. Ken Burtis chats with a student presenting his research.


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Best-poster winner Pascale Yazbeck.


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Flanked by students, Dr. Brigitte Wex inspects a poster.


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Maya Farah next to a poster on antibiotic resistance patterns and characterization of Class I Integron in uropathogenic Escherichia coli in Lebanon.


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Sharing ideas and experiences at the poster conference.


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A group picture of students, faculty, administrators and visitors at the opening ceremony.


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Dr. Pierre Zalloua, assistant dean of the School of Medicine and director of the Genomics and Proteomics Lab, checks out a student poster.

Click any image to view all seven pictures.

June 30, 2008—

From a distance, the set of colorful posters hanging at the Rima Hourani Exhibition Hall on June 18 seemed like a design exhibition. But a closer look revealed that the visuals were in fact channels for complex scientific ideas.

Terms such as DNA, RNA, proteins, genes and bacteria pervaded the 25 posters that were created by graduate Molecular Biology students to expound their own research and theses on various topics.

This was new for the participating students, who are more familiar with lectures and lab sessions. Through discussions with visitors and faculty members, they became transmitters of scientific knowledge.

Poster conferences are rarely held in Lebanon so the opportunity to take part in one was appreciated by many of the participants. Assistant Professor Brigitte Wex and students Maya Farah, Jihad Al-Andari and Najwan Fares, who organized the event, were confident that the experience would be useful to students in their future careers.

The event coincided with the visit of geneticist Ken Burtis, dean of the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis. He was involved in the review of the M.S. in Molecular Biology program, one of the academic programs undergoing revisions as called for by LAU’s strategic plan 2005–2010.

Burtis explained that these types of conferences allow for detailed, continuous discussions between scientists, and help explain research to people in different fields.

The event allowed students “to stand by their work and communicate it to others,” said Wex. “If you aren’t able to [do that], your work means nothing,” she added.

“The quality of the conference is up to international standards of Ph.D. students in the States,” said Burtis. He added that although the Molecular Biology Department at LAU is small, its “quality is very high” and its program is “very forward-thinking and ambitious.”


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