Symposium showcases student research

Alejandro Hernandez is working on using sodium silicate–a colorless, odorless liquid in soaps and detergents–as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to restore contaminated groundwater.


Alejandro Hernandez

Working at the Savannah River Site, one of the most significant sites for the production of materials related to the U.S. nuclear program during the early 1950s to late 1980s, Hernandez will help find solutions for and mitigate hazardous waste.

Hernandez is one of more than 80 student researchers, nine of which were from FIU, from 11 South Florida colleges and universities that presented their findings at the fourth annual Life Sciences South Florida STEM Undergraduate Research Symposium, held at Broward College earlier this month.

Hosted by Life Sciences South Florida, whose members include Scripps Research Institute and the Beacon Council, among other top educational, economic development and research institutions in the region, the symposium was aimed at encouraging students to join STEM fields. Launched in 2010, LSSF is overseen by FIU’s Office of Engagement.

“This symposium is a testament to the power of collaboration,” said Saif Ishoof, vice president of the Office of Engagement. “By utilizing our collective assets we are able to give our students the platform they need to showcase their work and encourage them to pursue degrees in STEM fields that result in high-tech and high-paying jobs.”

Hernandez, a Department of Energy fellow, worked alongside researchers Vasileios Anagnostopoulos and Yelena Katsenovich from at FIU’s Applied Research Center. His poster presentation won first place in a three-way tie with students from the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University.

Other FIU student research projects included metastatic uterine cancer resistance, spatial reasoning as a predictor of STEM success, synergetic interactions, migration and distribution of natural organic matter, and aromatic amino acids in the structure and function of DREAM protein.