ASU Research Symp. March 9-10; Annual Event Features STEM.

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Hou Professor ASU.jpg
ASU's Dr. Hou (Photo-credit: David Campbell/ASU).

ASU's Annual Research Frontier Symposium March 9-10; Will Feature Renowned Japanese Scientist

Dr. Jian-Ren Shen, winner of the Asahi Prize in Science, is the featured plenary session speaker.

WHEN: March 9 - 10.

WHERE: Virtually, via Google Meet and Zoom.


By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

One of the world's highly acclaimed scientists whose research earned him Japan’s prestigious Asahi Prize will offer the keynote plenary session address at Alabama State University's "Annual Research Frontier Symposium," which will be held virtually due to the COVID pandemic, via Google Meet and Zoom on March 9 - March 10. The theme of this year's widely respected science symposium is "Innovation in STEM Research." 


"This year, we are excited to have Asahi Prize winner Dr. Jian-Ren Shen as the plenary speaker at the University's yearly research symposium," said Dr. Harvey Hou, director and creator of the event and ASU's founding professor of Forensic Science. "The Asahi Prize is recognized today as one of the most authoritative and important private awards, and many of its past winners have gone on to receive the coveted Nobel Prize."

Hou explained that Shen is a professor of Biology at Okayama University in Japan. His research focuses on “elucidation of the structures and mechanisms of photosynthetic membrane-protein complexes involved in water oxidation” - which in layman's terms means that Shen discovered an outstanding piece of breakthrough science in the field of photosynthesis that highlights how energy is stored in plants. 

"In 2011, Dr. Shen’s research achievement was recognized and described as the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ by AAAS Science (one of the world's leading scholarly journals)," Hou stated. He feels that the Japanese researcher's findings may one day go way beyond plant life and has hopes that it may lead to the realization of high efficiency artificial photosynthesis systems that may prove to have the ability to help resolve global energy and environmental problems.


Another featured speaker of the symposium will be Dr. Vida Dennis, an ASU professor of Microbiology and the associate director at ASU's Center for NanoBiotechnology Research.

"Dr. Dennis has devoted more than 30 years of her scientific career to studying immunological aspects of microbial infectious diseases, including pathogenesis, therapeutics, and vaccines," Hou stated. "She will deliver a talk on her own research achievements to encourage and motivate all students present in the hope that they too will pursue a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The title of her featured talk is "Exploiting Nanotechnology in Pursuit of a Chlamydia Mucosal Subunit Vaccine."

An informal student discussion session also will be included in the symposium's schedule of events. 


This year, the ASU symposium's advising member, Dr. Yan, who is a professor of Biophysical Chemistry at Yale University, will chair a new lunch panel discussion session on "How to Put Together a Strong Graduate Application." The plan is to invite some of the faculty members from Yale as panelists to give advice and answer any questions that the students may have.

"Yale University, through its Dr. Yan, has been a regular attendee at ASU's annual Research Frontier Symposium, and have used it to scout out possible Alabama State University students to enroll in Yale's graduate programs," Hou shared. "Introducing and getting our and other minority students to receive a STEM education and obtain a career in the field is our goal so we may diversify STEM throughout the nation."

To attend, a donation of at least $10 per person is requested.

For more information: Dr. Harvey Hou, 334-604-9183; or; or visit the website:

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.