Student researchers impress at 2023 Hawk Talks conference
On Friday, April 28, undergraduate and graduate researchers from the University of Kansas presented their year-end projects at the 2023 Hawk Talks conference on the KU Edwards Campus. For many of the presenters, the conference represented not simply a semester’s worth of hard work, but a culmination of knowledge and guidance they’ve received at KU.
Hawk Talks features capstone, honors, and independent research projects from a variety of programs, including applied biological sciences, American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, psychology, and biotechnology. Overall, the conference is an up-to-date look at the excellence and innovation fostered at the KU Edwards Campus.
Friends, family, and faculty poured in to show support and see their students’ extraordinary work firsthand. Across three sessions, 14 students presented research that ranged in topic and tone. In a given session, attendees could be treated to research into the science of bad-tasting beers (Camron Haas’ “Preventing the Production of Diacetyl in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Prevent Off Flavors in Beer Brewing”), representation in the Queer Deaf community (Riley Stowers’ “LGBTQ+ and Deaf Intersectionality: The Impact of Representation”), and potential breakthroughs in anticancer therapeutics (Ana Hernandez’s “The role of catecholamines in tumor progression and use of beta-blockers in cancer treatment”).
Industry professionals and representatives from area corporations were also in attendance. As student researchers complete their degrees and look to future careers, Hawk Talks could be their foot-in-the-door moment.
“Beyond an opportunity to showcase their work, Hawk Talks also affords students a platform to share their talent with potential employers,” says Jack Treml, associate professor of biotechnology at KUEC and one of the conference’s organizers.
Although the focus is on the quality of the research, students showcase other valuable assets to employers: themselves.
“At Hawk Talks, students can demonstrate their laboratory and communication skills, while industries get to see the quality of graduates KU produces,” Treml says. In select instances, industry professionals even get to see the results of projects or programs they personally support.
For the KUEC faculty in attendance, watching the students present their work is particularly rewarding — and may help them optimize their curriculum. According to Treml, he can learn what today’s employers seek in candidates through conversations with industry professionals at the conference.
“Personally, I enjoy the opportunity to network with industry representatives so I can keep an ear out for new methods they would like students to understand.” By identifying the skills and knowledge employers desire, Hawk Talks allows Treml and his colleagues at KU Edwards Campus to foster workforce-ready graduates.
Whatever may be next for the eponymous Hawks, their high-flying achievements exemplify KU excellence and the vibrant, diverse work occurring daily on the KU Edwards Campus.