Austin College junior Andrew J. Pak was awarded “best student presentation” for his research poster delivery at the international conference of the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, held October 28-30. His research in biology was “The interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and the ACE-2 Transmembrane Receptor, and a Proposal of the Use of a Pseudovirus as a Vaccine.”
- COVID Conference Program
- Keynote Address
- Current Data, Risk Mitigation Strategies, and Myths Debunked (YouTube Video)
The conference, available in virtual sessions online, covered topics of health administration; biomedical sciences; non-communicable diseases; nursing and professional practices; dentistry, psychology, society, and education; public health; and health and comprehensive care and was entirely in Spanish. Austin College’s Dr. Saritha Bangara, assistant professor of public health, provided the keynote address, translated to Spanish.
The son of James and Jane Pak of Plano, Texas, Andrew is completing majors in biology and chemistry and is interested in medical studies.
“This international conference was an exciting way for Austin College students to engage with medical students at the university in Mexico,” said Julie Hempel, Ph.D., professor of Spanish at Austin College and director of the College’s Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies. A direct exchange between Austin College and the UJAT was established in January 2020 when Austin College students traveled to the university as part of Hempel’s “Medicine in Mexico” course. Throughout the course, Austin College students visited the medical school, interacting with medical students and shadowing Dr. Leticia Guerrero in her clinic.
“This conference allowed pre-medical, public health, and psychology students from Austin College and the UJAT to share findings from research projects related to COVID 19,” Hempel said. Students who had done research related to COVID 19 were encouraged to participate in the conference’s poster or paper sessions, in English or Spanish.
These opportunities for Austin College students and faculty, including the JanTerm course in Tabasco were made possible because of the Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies and the “Infusing Languages and Global Competency Across the Disciplines” grant received by Austin College in 2018.
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program awarded the grant, which provides opportunities for students to engage in Spanish language and Hispanic culture in various academic and professional settings. The grant program includes opportunities such as international internships, new JanTerm programs, new interdisciplinary courses in Spanish and in Latin American & Iberian Studies, faculty workshops, and outreach programming for North Texas high schools.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.