University of South Florida

Students present research during 8th Annual Student Symposium

The presenters and judges of the 8th Annual Student Symposium hosted by the Morsani College of Medicine RISE Office.

Medical students, staff and faculty gathered Nov. 3 at the USF Health auditorium for the 8th Annual Student Symposium, hosted by the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Research, Innovation and Scholarly Endeavors (RISE) office.

The symposium offers medical students a chance to present their research concisely and practice their presentation skills, and illustrates the benefits of lifelong scholarship, said Roberta “Bobby” Collins, RISE director.

“This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the breadth and variety of research interests our medical students are involved with,” Collins said. “Every year this event continues to grow, and that growth is a direct reflection of how engaged our students are in research.”

Stephen Liggett, MD, associate vice president for the USF Health Research and vice dean for research at MCOM, was the symposium’s keynote speaker.

Each student had seven minutes to present their research to a panel of judges including returning judge Andreas Seyfang, PhD, an associate professor from MCOM’s Department of Molecular Medicine.  He says the event helps provide some valuable feedback to medical students that they can later use when they present other works they do.

“The biggest thing we look for is their ability to communicate their research, and what they expect to find, and their confidence while presenting,” Dr. Seyfang said. “It’s rewarding for me to get to see these students from the start of their medical school journey and to watch their confidence and passion in their research grow.”

Casey Liveringhouse, third-year medical student, takes questions from the audience following his presentation.

Students who participated said the greatest benefit was the opportunity to present their research and get some valuable feedback from student peers and faculty members.

Second-year medical student Andrew Sephien made his first-ever research presentation, focused on gender and interest in orthopedic surgery and how that relates to match rates.

“It was a little nerve-racking to start.  But once I got into explaining my research, my confidence grew quickly,” said Sephien. “The environment was very low-stress and informal, which was great considering a few of us were making presentations for the first time.”

Andrew Sephien, second-year medical student.

Stephen B. Liggett, MD, associate vice president for the USF Health Office of Research and vice dean for research at MCOM, served as the keynote speaker.   His speech titled “Night Science” centered on the concept of how night has often been the time when scientific creativity and innovation are sparked, without the distraction of so many tasks to focus on during the day.  He emphasized that students conducting research should be continually asking questions while searching for answers, looking for links as evidence is gathered, and open to new directions when unexpected findings happen.

“This attitude is very correlative to those who pursue research and those who want to be physicians,” Dr. Liggett said. “It’s important for them to seek out the very best place or person to work with, make the sacrifices, and the effort will pay off.”

This year’s top honors went to:


Pre-Clerkship Level:  Avi-Chai Robinson, MSII SELECT Program (Class of 2020), Preloading Corneas at the Eye Bank Improves Transplant Outcomes

Clerkship Level:  James Dustin Denham, MSIII RISE Scholar (Class of 2019), Two Cases of Disseminated Infection Following Live Organism Anti-Cancer Vaccine Administration in Cancer Patients.


Pre-clerkship Level:  Catherine Doyle, MSII SELECT Program (Class of 2020), Standardizing Patient Care at Lehigh Valley Health Network: Development and Implementation of a Clinical Pathway for Elective Spine Surgery.

Clerkship Level:  Casey Liveringhouse, MSIII Biomedical Research Scholarly Concentration (Class of 2019), Correlation of Molecular Features with Clinical Outcomes in Glioblastoma Treated with Chemoradiation.

-Photos by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications

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