The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

El Camino students win top honors at community college research conference

Alfina Eull, 18, pre-engineering major and Honors Transfer Program student stands outside the Natural Science Building near an area where she discovered the slimy mollusks for her award-winning research project. (Olivia Sullivent | The Union)

Two students from El Camino College garnered top awards at an event showcasing the academic talent of community college honors scholars.

El Camino students Afina Eull, 18, and Ibrahim Yaaseen, 19, both first-year students, received accolades for their research at the annual Honors Transfer Council of California conference.

The conference featured over 50 honors programs from California community colleges, each presenter hand-selected by the HTCC conference submission committee.

This year’s event was at the University of California Riverside on April 20.

Eull won first place in the Natural and Behavioral Science Poster Presentation division and Yaaseen earned an Exemplary Achievement Award.

El Camino typically sends 15 to 30 presenters along with 10 student moderators to the conference, where scholars have the option to deliver an oral presentation individually or in a group, present a poster or do an artistic performance, according to Kassia Wosick, El Camino Honors Transfer Program co-director and sociology faculty.

The moderators, selected by the HTP faculty, go to the conference and help moderate the presentations throughout the day.

“It’s a nice way for students to get involved without having to present,” Wosick said.

Eull, a pre-engineering major, heard about the conference from her honors biology professor and future mentor, Karla Villatoro, who helped Eull shape her research upon stumbling across a unique find on campus.

“Last semester I was taking a late evening chemistry class, and when I’d walk around during our break I’d notice a bunch of slugs,” Eull said. “I then collected the slug mucus and tested it in two experiments, one for each species of the slug for antimicrobial properties.”

Eull’s winning presentation, “Slimy Secrets: The Antimicrobial Potential of Mollusk Mucus,” consisted of extensive research on slugs and lab experiments conducted in the El Camino laboratories.

Yaaseen, a human biology major, did a poster presentation titled “Mitochondrial DNA’s Role in Aging – Unlocking the Fountain of Youth.”

A screenshot of honor student Ibrahim Yaaseen's award-winning poster on human aging and Mitochondrial DNA. (Olivia Sullivent | The Union)
A screenshot of honor student Ibrahim Yaaseen’s award-winning poster on human aging and Mitochondrial DNA. (Olivia Sullivent | The Union)

“My research was focused on human aging and the DNA of the mitochondria,” Yaaseen said.

Yaaseen won the Exemplary Achievement Award for his poster, an award granted to a select number of students.

“I think El Camino has participated in the conference since it began 20 years ago, that’s why it’s really special for us,” Wosick said.

The full-day conference includes workshops, keynote speeches, and networking opportunities, providing a platform for students to engage with peers and professionals.

“The conference isn’t just you presenting your thing, there’s so many other sessions to learn about other cool projects,” Eull said.

El Camino covers registration fees, transportation and lunch costs, making the conference free to all honors students participating in the event, Wosick said.

Presenters are free to explore any subject matter and showcase their research to an audience composed of students, university faculty, professionals from various industries and judges.

“This is an opportunity for students to share their voice, their academic interests and speak about a subject or data or research that they know a lot about and that they’ve worked hard to know about,” Wosick said.

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