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New biology club gives students a leg up

There’s a new nationally recognized club for students on campus, and it’s all about science.

A new student chapter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is one of the newest clubs available to NMSU students. The club has been going through the registration process since 2017 and is awaiting final certification from the Associated Students of NMSU. NMSU will join The University of Texas at El Paso, the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University in having an active ASBMB chapter.

Graduate student and ASBMB member Kiel Jones works in a biochemistory lab Friday, Feb. 9, on the NMSU campus. Jones is working on his Ph.D. in biochemistry. (Photo by Nicholas Arias/Kokopelli)

Erik Yukl, an assistant professor in the NMSU chemistry and biochemistry department and the club’s faculty adviser, was the man in charge of getting the club started on campus. He said the club is going to be extremely beneficial for the students who join.

“The idea is to prepare undergraduate students for the next phase in their career,” said Yukl. “Each year, ASBMB has a national meeting. [The meeting provides] very good networking opportunities. A lot of universities and industries, as well, have [recruiters who] come specifically to find undergraduate seniors or juniors,” he said.

Yukl said the club was started through a minority-serving institutional partnership in which a friend at UTEP who had previously started an ASBMB chapter was willing to sponsor the NMSU chapter. That partnership provided NMSU the connection it needed to get the club started.

The club currently has 12 members. It is open to undergraduates and graduate students. Right now, the majority of the students involved are seniors. Dante Merced Avalos, a senior biochemistry major, is a member and one of the students who assisted in the club’s creation.

“I’m a little sad that it’s my senior year, but it’ll help anyone that’s coming in now,” Avalos said. “[We are trying] to take this professional society and bring it down to undergrads. We’re thinking about doing community outreach, and we want to be able to go to the annual meeting in San Diego this year,” he said.

The ASBMB club at NMSU will be run by students nominated and elected by other students. Professor Yukl will oversee the club, but will leave the day-to-day leadership to the students. Yukl said there is a president who handles running the club, and a vice president who supports and helps out and eventually takes over the role of president.

The students have already elected a full council and are looking for more members to join. The current ASBMB president, Jacqueline Kieltyka, looks forward to seeing the club prosper.

“There are no restrictions on membership eligibility—anyone can join,” Kieltyka said. “However, the club is definitely geared towards students with biochemical or molecular biology interests and backgrounds. Members of ASBMB are involved in a national community of scientists,” she said. “ASBMB holds annual national science conferences where our student members are able to participate. Not only will this give our members experience presenting our own research, but these conferences also provide great resources and contacts for graduate school applications,” Kieltyka said. “Overall, we hope to give members a leg up when it comes to preparing for future careers.”

ASBMB holds regular meetings every month. The next meeting will be Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the chemistry building.

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