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Two decades of grad research in chemistry and biochemistry

NOV. 10: A Concordia conference celebrates the staying power of ‘by student, for student’ organizing
November 6, 2017
By Tiffany Lafleur


On November 10, Concordia’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Research Conference (CBGRC) marks a landmark anniversary: 20 years of offering North American graduate students a professional platform from which to talk about their research interests.

Attendees learn about the latest developments in academia, as well as in the industry as a whole.

“The CBGRC specifically focuses on graduate research, and as such, exemplifies the work being done by students on a day-to-day basis,” says Cynthia Messina, co-head organizer of this year’s symposium.

“It encourages discussion and collaboration between peers from different universities and seeks to build a sense of community among student researchers.”

Celebrating the 20th year is a momentous event for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, adds Messina.

“This conference is organized for graduate students by graduate students, and everyone involved works as a volunteer. Year after year, so many Concordians come together and work tirelessly to make it successful.”

‘A dynamic research vibe’

Students are given two options to showcase their research: either by oral presentation or a poster, in English or French. They are judged on the quality and originality of their research, and awards are presented for both categories.

“I think the spirit of the conference speaks to the dynamic research vibe we have at Concordia,” says Rafik Naccache, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Faculty of Arts and Science. A former student, Naccache (MSc 06, PhD 12) participated in the competition on several occasions between 2004 and 2008.

“The CBGRC is an excellent opportunity to present your research findings while interacting with your peers and other members of academia, including professors.”

This year, Naccache will once again participate in the conference, this time as a judge for both the presentation and poster categories.

The symposium, which takes place at the Loyola Campus Science Pavilion this year, welcomes students researching a wide variety of subjects, including nanochemistry, molecular biology, organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry.

‘A strong network of like-minded colleagues’

John Manioudakis (BSc 00, PhD 09), who received a doctorate in biochemistry from Concordia, has fond memories of attending and volunteering for the CBGRC.

Chair of the symposium from 2004 to 2007, Manioudakis worked tirelessly to organize the conference with his team and prepare his own presentation. 

The experience, he says, gave him invaluable skills that complemented those he gained through presenting his research, such as booking sponsors, managing schedules and balancing a budget.

Brigitte Desharnais (BSc 11), a PhD candidate who participated many times in the conference both as a participant and organizer, agrees.

“The CBGRC allowed me to build a strong network of like-minded colleagues to go through the ups and downs of a PhD,” she says.

“This is an event organized by an ever-changing staff, not supervised by any faculty member. It's a small miracle that it lasted for 20 years and is a testament to the quality of chemistry and biochemistry graduate students at Concordia.”

Find out more about Concordia’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Research Conference. Registration is now closed.


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