Poster Symposium Creates Scholarly Research Opportunities

A day two years in the making, the USC School of Pharmacy’s inaugural Scholarly Project Symposium gave third-year pharmacy students the unique opportunity to present original research projects to an audience of alumni, faculty and staff.

The all-day symposium on Friday, March 30 brought together 183 PharmD students to present posters in teams and compete for awards.

183 PharmD students presented electronic posters at the inaugural Scholarly Project Symposium held at the USC School of Pharmacy on March 30, 2018. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero)

“Critical thinking skills are particularly important in the contemporary pharmacy environment,” said Ian Haworth, associate professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences and director of curriculum at USC School of Pharmacy, explaining why the school updated its curriculum in 2016 to implement a required scholarly project to engage students in the process of scientific inquiry.

“These skills can be developed through research and scholarship, making the project an important addition to the curriculum.”

The members of the class of 2019 collectively dedicated an estimated 30,000 hours in the process of producing 70 original scholarly projects across a range of categories including specialty pharmacy, transitions of care, pain management, ambulatory care pharmacy, infectious diseases and public health.

Pictured (L-R): Tanya Markary, Dab Brill, Kenna Patel and Navneet Multani present ‘Use of TYPS website with USC School of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics students’ during the final round of PharmD Scholarly Project Symposium. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero)

On the day of the symposium, each student team was paired with one of nine panels of judges comprising faculty, staff, alumni and preceptors. Rory Kim, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy and the symposium’s faculty organizer, noted that in envisioning the experience for students, it was important to create an interactive atmosphere similar to professional research conferences. “We decided to use the poster format to keep presentations short and to encourage students to submit their work to local and national pharmacy conferences,” Kim said.

Student participants said they found their research experiences challenging and rewarding.

Third-year student Jonathan Hwang, who co-presented research evaluating the effective utilization of Alvimopan, a drug used to speed up recovery after bowel surgery,  noted the scholarly project provided an opportunity to integrate research into the professional work experience he was gaining at a pharmacy. “My team and I developed the idea in conjunction with our pharmacy manager and used data we had on file to fuel our research,” Hwang said.

Five teams advanced to the final round of the Symposium to compete for top awards. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero)

Tanya Markary, whose team won one of the two Dean’s Recognition Awards for developing a website that enables students to learn pharmaceutics at their own pace, said she and her team members Kenna Patel, Navneet Multani and Dab Brill were looking forward to continuing to develop their project. “Our next step is to test the website with the incoming pharmacy students as part of their pharmaceutics class and expand from there.”

Haworth, project mentor for the team, noted the project may be utilized in the School’s program in the years to come. “At the USC School of Pharmacy, we are continuously looking for innovative approaches to education. I was thrilled to support a student-developed idea that could potentially support the teaching program from next year.” Haworth also pointed out the key role that Brill, a PhD student, played in the project as “an example of PharmD and PhD students working together on scholarship.”

“The symposium effectively engaged the school’s community in celebrating the scholarly effort of our PharmD students,” Kim added. “In the future, we plan on seeking partnership opportunities across the USC Health Sciences Campus to increase the impact our students can make.”

Dean Papadopoulos and members of the USC Alumni Association present the Alumni Board Award for Excellence in Scholarship to the winning team of Miranda Wong, Michael Formica, Helen Tran and Isabel Chu. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero)

The following awards were presented:

Alumni Board Award for Excellence in Scholarship

  • “Impact of the Bedside Pharmacy Program on 30-Day Readmissions” by Isabel Chu, Michael Formica, Helen Tran and Miranda Wong

Dean’s Recognition Awards

  • “Effects of Obesity/Diabetes on the Cytokine Response and Outcome of Patients with Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia” by Stephanie Mac and Nicole Pepe
  • “Use of TYPS Website with USC School of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics Students” by Kenna Patel, Navneet Multani, Tanya Markary and Dab Brill

People’s Choice Award

  • “The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Academic Performance for Pharmacy Students at the University of Southern California” by Kim Tran, Liana So, Jennifer Quach and Michele Nguyen