OLLU to host national Sigma Zeta convention this Saturday

OLLU students to present
at national conference here
(9:20-10 a.m., Saturday)

Christina George – "Comparison of in vivo pharmacology between nicotinic ago-nists used in smoking cessation"

Melanie Valenciana – "Protein sequence conservation in DNA repair protein Trex2"

Krysta N. Varnum, Alyssa R. Dominguez, Mayra Barajas, and Sara M. Volk – "GABAA- receptor subunit is a candidate for alphavirus receptor" 
This Thursday-Saturday, OLLU will host the annual convention of the Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Honor Society. Sigma Zeta, started in 1926, is an undergraduate honor society for students in the natural and computer sciences and mathematics. From March 24-26, about 100 students and faculty from around the nation will visit OLLU for research presentations, field trips, an awards ceremony and social time in San Antonio.
OLLU biology faculty members
Cary Guffey, PhD, (2nd from left)
and Jim Hall, PhD,
(4th from left)
serve as national officers of
Sigma Zeta National Science
and Mathematics Honor Society.

OLLU is not only the host campus for the national meeting but OLLU faculty members currently hold two of the eight national offices for Sigma Zeta.
Jim Hall, PhD, professor and chair of the Biology Department, serves as Sigma Zeta's national executive director, while Cary Guffey, PhD, associate professor of biology, is the publicist on the national board.

"Our chapter has been one of the most active chapters in the country," Hall said, noting that in addition to its national representation on the officer board, the OLLU chapter regularly attends the annual conferences.

OLLU has a long history with Sigma Zeta, Hall said, as the school, then known as Our Lady of the Lake College, became the 18th, or Sigma, campus chapter in 1944. Hall said the sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence, who taught in the sciences and math at that time, helped the campus become an official chapter.

Sigma Zeta is open to students from the sciences and mathematics, and as such, Hall said that member institutions typically include smaller colleges and universities who don't have enough science and mathematics majors to form separate groups. OLLU has about 150 biology majors, 16 chemistry majors and 28 math majors, including students in the math teaching program.

But the combination of science and math students in the group is a benefit of Sigma Zeta, Hall said.

"Our (group) is more inclusionary," he said. "We think that makes our conferences more interesting."

The highlight of the conference, Hall said, is the student presentations. These will take place on the third floor conference room in Main Building on March 25 and 26. About six OLLU students will present.

Along with Dr. Guffey, OLLU Sigma Zeta members have helped coordinate for the national meeting, Hall said.

"It's a great experience for our students to put on such a big event," he said. "They grow professionally by having to make all these arrangements."

The national convention benefits OLLU, too.

"We get to show off our campus and our city a little bit," Hall said.

For more information on Sigma Zeta's national convention at OLLU, visit: www.sigmazeta.org

Chartwells Dining Services is a sponsor of the convention.

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