Ah, the life of a college student: Roll out of bed, down a cup of coffee and research the significance of protein expression in breast cancer cells.
That's a day in the life of Dominican University of California student Sruthi Damodar.
"So you wouldn't have tumor progression, tumor survival," Damodar said to a handful of other undergrads, some jotting down notes.
She's one of more than 3,000 students presenting research at this year's National Conference on Undergraduate Research on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's campus.
"Yeah, there are some pretty remarkable students out there," said UW-L Director of Undergraduate Research Scott Cooper.
These students come from across the country and around the world. Undergrads from 48 states and seven countries are all converging on the UW-L campus through Saturday to talk about their research and do a little networking.
Cooper said these students will have a big advantage come graduation.
"I think it makes them very competitive for jobs and for graduate schools. Employers are looking for students that come out with actual hands-on skills,” said Cooper. “They can show that they've done something outside of the classroom aside from just sitting and taking notes."
But it's not just a resume-builder. These students' work can have a big impact on the issues facing society, like Jessica Weiner's research on different strategies for teaching kids how to cope with anger.
"It's very key to start with adolescents, especially now that we've seen so much violence, and gun control controversy, all related to specific events like Chardon, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colo. So I think that this is a very important topic," said Weiner.
Even though research can be intimidating as an undergrad, Damodar said it's worth the extra effort.
"When I first started out, I was like, 'Oh my God. I have this many papers to read?' And it was just overwhelming,” said Damodar. “But when you actually get started and have a good mentorship ...this is a really good experience to go through."
All the student presentations and guest speakers are open to the public. For more information on the events going on through Saturday, visit the conference’s website.