Standing in the back of the large conference hall, sophomore Joseph Casila made it to the awards ceremony just in time to hear astonishing news.
“First they said, ‘sophomore’ and then ‘University of Guam’,” Casila said. “I knew I was the only UOG sophomore there, and that’s when I got really excited.”
Out of 2,000 students from around the nation, Casila was one of 200 to receive the Outstanding Research Presentation Award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students last November.
The conference was held at the Tampa Bay Convention Center, and featured speakers, workshops, and opportunities to conduct research with major institutions.
Casila, a biology, chemistry, and math triple major, presented findings from research he conducted last summer at the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) Diversity Summer Research Training Program in Phoenix, Arizona..
Casila was excited when he realized what kind research he would be conducting.
NIKDD previously travelled to Guam to study genetic kidney failure, and now Casila was tasked to compare the Guam results with other findings.
“It felt so perfect,” Casila said. “NIKKD accepted someone from Guam into the program who would eventually handle the research conducted in Guam.”
His presentation on these findings earned Casila the Outstanding Research Presentation Award and additional $250 cash prize.
“This was for UOG”
“At times my friends believe it isn’t possible to win competitions because they’re ‘only from UOG’,” Casila said. “But it is possible. As long as you work hard and believe in yourself. This award wasn’t just for me. It felt like this was for UOG.”
Conducting research about Guam and winning the award were dreams come true for Casila. He hopes that his accomplishments will inspire other Tritons to go for their dreams.