UNM Names Recipients of First Faculty-Supervised Undergraduate Research Scholarship: UNM Newsroom

Research assistant professor Achraf Noureddine and biochemistry student Lien Tang honored

At the University of New Mexico, undergraduates engage with world-class researchers to develop innovative new knowledge and solve important societal challenges. In keeping with this important mission, UNM’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the Undergraduate Research, Arts, and Design Network have collaborated to celebrate these incredible partnerships through the new Undergraduate Research Award. mentored by faculty who recognize outstanding examples of research mentorship from faculty and professional students. development.

The inaugural recipients of the 2022 Faculty-Sponsored Undergraduate Research Award include Assistant Research Professor Achraf Noureddine and BA/MD Biochemistry student Lien T. Tang. Together, Noureddine and Tang demonstrate UNM’s principle of “IS research education” by fostering a culture of diverse research participation, advancing UNM students toward a prosperous future, and increasing research capacity that has an impact on society.

“We are thrilled to present this new award which truly shines a light on one of our most important activities at the University: mentoring students in the discovery of new knowledge,” said Vice President of Research Ellen Fisher. “This kind of experiential learning forges the next generation of passionate and innovative leaders who will change our world.”

As a freshman in the fall of 2018, Tang joined UNM’s Nanoscience and Nanomedicine Lab under Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Brinker and early-career mentor Achraf Noureddine, who is an assistant professor. of research in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“I was driven – and continue to be driven – by the hope of helping find solutions to currently unresolved problems in society and eventually helping others through my research, Tang said. Noureddine and Tang have collaborated on research using silica nanotechnology to create versatile platforms for the treatment of different types of cancer and other diseases such as obesity.

“By taking ownership of the project intellectually, Lien launched its approach through extensive documentary research to strengthen its knowledge of the state of the art of its project,” said Noureddine. “It helped to direct the research path by selecting the specific experimental procedures/elements to follow or avoid, thus enabling a significant breakthrough.”

Through weekly meetings, Noureddine helped Tang design, conduct, and evaluate his experiments. The results speak for themselves. Tang is the principal or co-author of at least five scientific papers, including one honoring the Department of Energy Centers and another in Nature Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with Research Assistant Professor Rita Serda of the Health Sciences Center of the ‘A M. She is also a co-inventor on a patent application through UNM Rainforest Innovations and has mentored high school students, five undergraduate students, and one graduate student.

In addition to Tang’s successes, the Awards Selection Committee was impressed with evidence of Noureddine’s responsive and holistic mentorship process, which contributed significantly to Tang’s professional growth and the development of ethical research practices, engaged and collaborative. Like many projects, this research required significant practical training for the development of theoretical and technical skills to perform the work safely and independently.

Noureddine carefully balanced this training with strategies to enable Tang to feel comfortable and take ownership of his research, to gain confidence, and to make independent decisions rather than “working for a supervisor”. The results of this strategy were evident in an outstanding “lightning” speech Tang produced, where she demonstrated a sophisticated knowledge of research and its meaning, and a clear and organized understanding of the research process from concept to revalidation. key results. In describing the success of the project, Tang noted in particular how valuable Noureddine’s guidance was in helping him cope with COVID-19 restrictions and adapt to these difficult circumstances without sacrificing the momentum of the research.

Tang noted in his nomination form the importance of professional development beyond the research itself. “I was able to participate in multiple external opportunities to share my findings or my research experience with others,” she said. “I have presented my research in the form of posters and oral presentations at several conferences, including the Rio Grande Symposium on Advanced Materials as well as the UNM Undergraduate Research Opportunities Conference.

“Thanks to my research experience, I have supervised several high school students in the laboratory by sharing my expertise in both technical skills and scientific knowledge associated with my project. Outside of the lab itself, I have participated in a science fair alumni panel to share my general research experiences with current science fair students and have been a guest speaker at the ABQ school of excellence to share my experiences with younger students and help spark interest in pursuing science.

Noureddine and Tang’s research harnesses the power of silica science to create new systems capable of treating recurrent drug-resistant prostate cancer by cleverly combining nanotechnology with biotechnology. In addition to this crucial research, their partnership demonstrates the value of research in shaping future scholars. Indeed, Tang went beyond the realm of “future scholar” and became a “scholar” the day she entered the Nanoscience and Nanomedicine Lab at UNM.

Tang graduated from Manzano High School as a class valedictorian and graduated from UNM with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry last May. She then enrolled in the UNM School of Medicine. Noureddine, who obtained his doctorate. in nano-engineering at the School of Chemical Engineering of Montpellier (France), is assistant research professor at UNM since 2019. His research interests include engineering of sol-gel materials, architecture of nanoparticles and the nanomedicine, among others. Noureddine is also a dedicated supporter of inclusive diversity mentoring.

Photo cut line: Biochemistry student Lien Tang and assistant research professor Achraf Noureddine are the recipients of the first faculty-sponsored undergraduate research scholarship.

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