Five students from UNM's Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) and two from UNM's Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program won 2012 SACNAS Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation Awards at the organization's SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the Sciences) national meeting held recently in Seattle, Wash. More than 2000 students attended the meeting, most of whom presented posters and oral presentations.

The UNM students won the awards in the category of Biological, Agricultural & Environmental Life Sciences. The IMSD students include: Wylie Barton, Genetics; Megan Hudgell, Biological Sciences; Alice Martinic, Cell/Molecular Biology; Matthew Medina, Microbiology; and Daniel Moezzi, Biology. The MARC students include Rachel Gomez, Biochemistry/Biophysics and Daniel Lujan, Biology.

SACNAS is a 40-year old national organization that was started by Hispanic and Native scientists - many of whom were from New Mexico. The society of scientists is dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in science.

SACNAS Student Research Presentation Awards are presented annually during the SACNAS National Conference. Honorees receive a monetary award; those awards sponsored by SACNAS scientific society partners also generally include all-expense paid participation in that society's next annual meeting.

Undergraduate student poster presenters and graduate student oral presenters are recognized for their outstanding research presentations. Recognitions are determined based on scores provided by mentor-judges and the collective recommendations of all judges within each subdiscipline.

The IMSD and the MARC programs, in the UNM Department of Biology, are geared toward improving research training and opportunities for underrepresented minority students.

UNM's IMSD program offers research training and professional development to prepare students for graduate school. IMSD is funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The overall goal of IMSD is to promote diversity, which includes increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue Ph.D.-level research careers in the biomedical sciences.

The MARC program at UNM supports talented undergraduates with research training and support that directly prepares scholars for careers in biomedical research. The fields of research could be biology, chemistry, cell and molecular biology, genetics, biophysics, mathematics, pharmacology, biochemistry, bioengineering or computer science. The program goals are to increase the number and competitiveness of underrepresented minorities engaged in biomedical research by increasing the research training opportunities for scholars.

For more information, visit: SACNAS.

Media contact: Steve Carr (505) 277-1821; email: