For one chemistry major at Sacramento State, bonds come in all forms, and they’re benefiting him in more than one way.
Michael Skidmore works in one of professor Kathie McReynolds’ student research teams outside of his normal class work. The group designs molecular decoys that are capable of binding to viruses, like West Nile or HIV, to prevent them from binding to, and infecting host cells. But while he’s busy binding molecules, it’s his research that is connecting him to opportunities outside of the classroom.
Skidmore was one of 543 people at the State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Symposium in January at the Oakland Marriott City Center. The event included CSU science and engineering faculty and students, as well as government and science industry professionals for a series of lectures, presentations and a poster session where students presented their research.
Skidmore won a $3,000 Howell-CSUPERB Scholars Award for his research and presentation.
“It was, in a way, humbling,” Skidmore says. “I think even if I had just been nominated and didn’t win, it would have still been great. It’s just a good opportunity.”
For chemistry majors the degree is important, but the hands-on lab experience is the icing on the cake, says McReynolds. “It’s critical for students to go on, to go to graduate school or get that first job, and the industry is interested in whether that student has research experience outside of the classroom.”
Skidmore, who will graduate in May, has worked with McReynolds for the past year and a half on the student research team. McReynolds provided the opportunity for students after receiving a $27,000 joint venture grant funded in part by CSUPERB.
“These students are highly trained in research—not everyone does it as it’s not required for graduating,” McReynolds says. “But I don’t want my students waiting tables in the summer when they could be doing research to help themselves prepare.”
In addition to winning the Howell-CSUPERB Scholars Award, Skidmore also competed in the local CSU Student Research Competition and the state-wide CSU Student Research Competition. He will present his research again in July at a luncheon with the Howell scholarship sponsors.
“I’m prepared for it. I’ll wear the suit and tie. I feel if people are going to contribute to research, it’s the least I can do to present what I’ve been doing to the sponsors.”