Symposium focuses on undergraduate research

Undergraduate students were recently recognized for their outstanding oral and poster presentations related to their research during the 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium, sponsored by the College of Education, Research Council, and University Research Enterprise.

During the symposium, faculty and staff judges representing each of Louisiana Tech’s academic colleges reviewed the posters and listened to students explain their research.  A group of faculty and staff judges rated 11 oral presentations during the day as well.

“Research experiences are invaluable for undergraduate students and their academic experience,” said Dr. Dave Norris, Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Louisiana Tech. “Moreover, these outstanding students provide immense value to our research enterprise through their contributions to cutting edge research projects. This symposium is a wonderful exhibition of their work.”

All five colleges of the campus were represented. The College of Applied and Natural Sciences had a particularly strong showing with more than half of the students and faculty winners associated with their college.

The symposium offers undergraduate students an opportunity to share the research they’ve conducted in conjunction with faculty members, said Dr. Gary Kennedy, Dean of the College of Applied and Natural Sciences.

“I was very pleased that students from the College of Applied and Natural Sciences swept the top five awards in the poster competition and also had two top five places in the oral presentation,” Kennedy said.  “In the Fall Quarter each year, the College of Applied and Natural Sciences awards mini-grants to undergraduate students who team with a faculty member on research projects.  The students present that research in the college’s own research symposium in April.”

Biology professor Dr. Jamie Newman, an advisor for several students, said the symposium provided the perfect opportunity for her students to engage and explain their work.

“The opportunity to share their research with other faculty and students at the university and the chance to learn about research and scholarly activity happening across campus is eye-opening and inspiring,” Newman said. “As a faculty member, I always learn so much at these events. I have the chance to interact with students and faculty colleagues to learn about amazing activities happening across campus and, like the students, I am inspired by the creativity and passion that the students have for their discipline.”

Dr. Don Schillinger, Dean of the College of Education, said he was grateful to have the opportunity to engage with students whose work faced research challenges in many areas.

“It was a pleasure to observe the positive interaction of the undergraduate researchers as they explained their projects to faculty,” Schillinger said. “I appreciate faculty and staff for their support of this endeavor and to all who participated, supported, and volunteered their valuable time and expertise to make the event a success.

An awards event will be held in the spring quarter to recognize the winners of the Research Symposium.

The top five presenters from the undergraduate oral presentations and from the undergraduate poster presentations also earned a spot representing Louisiana Tech University at the Fifth Annual Academic Summit for the University of Louisiana System on April 11. The Academic Summit is designed to be a celebration of academic excellence at UL System universities and will encompass the System’s service-learning conference, a student art exhibition, and an undergraduate research day.

Oral presentation winners

  • First Place: Savannah Esteve, Advisor: Dr. Bryant Hollins – A Microfluidic Platform for Selective Capture of MG-Adducted Proteins
  • Second Place: Evan Norris, Advisor: Dr. Pedro Derosa – The Efficient Simulation of Light transmission Through Liquid Suspensions and Aerosol
  • Third Place: Nathan Bolner, Advisor: Dr. Paul Jackson – Evaluation of Sowing Methods to Determine the Role of Hypocotlyl Extension in Longleaf Pine Seedling Development 
  • Fourth Place: India Pursell, Advisors: Dr. Jamie Newman & Dr. Mary Calderera Moore – Myogenic Differentiation of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells
  • Fifth Place: Emily LaJunie, Advisor: Dr. Nick Bustamante – Creating Empathy for an Understanding of Mental Health Problems

Poster presentation winners

  • First Place: Avery Bryan and John Bradley Cart, Advisor: Dr. Jamie Newman – Using RT-PCR to Investigate the Role of the Notch Pathway in Self-Renewal of hASCs
  • Second Place: Annabelle Grounds, Advisor: Dr. Natalie Clay – Invertebrate Population Estimation through Decomposing Wood in Berlese Funnels                                                                       
  • Third Place: Conner Hartupee and Conner Bennett, Advisor: Jamie Newman – Investigating Protein Interactions within the Mediator Complex through ChIP & Co-IP
  • Fourth Place: Maggie Herrmann, Advisor: Dr. Natalie Clay – Direct and Indirect Low-Level Sodium Additions to Riparia Impact Leachate Quality
  • Fifth Place: Hannah Logan and Meng Cheng Liu, Advisor: Dr. Jamie Newman – Investigating the Role of Notch 1 and Notch 3 in Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Adipogenesis