A poster on livestock production stands beside another about 3-D movies. Students present the influence of communication technology on student-teacher communication, while a few feet away another explains how understanding a protein’s essential components may lead to the creation of antibiotics.
This is the Undergraduate Research Festival.
Fifty-six primary research projects in such concentrations as English and physics, music and Biblical studies, chemistry and psychology were presented on a display board or in a speech from April 7-12.
Though this is ACU’s second research festival, it was Holly Perkins’ first time to experience the event. Perkins, a junior biochemistry major from Colorado Springs, Colo., said she was excited to present her work on protein structure beside projects from so many branches of learning.
“I think it’s wonderful that ACU has such a reputation for helping undergraduates do research,” Perkins said. “Research is so vital in many fields of study.”
The number of presenters grew this year to 74 from last year’s 69. Dr. Gregory Powell, professor of chemistry and undergraduate research director, said he was pleased with the increase in presenters and presentations – 7.2 percent and 12 percent, respectively – even though it failed to reach his original goal of 100 student participants.
“If we keep increasing at this rate over the next three or four years, we’ll be doing really well,” Powell said.
The festival commenced April 7 with poster presentations in the Brown Library Learning Commons. Monday began with oral presentations given in the Hunter Welcome Center and ended with an awards banquet featuring guest speaker Dr. Kevin Gardner.
In his address, Gardner, professor of biochemistry at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, answered questions like “What is biophysics?” “How do plants see blue light?” and “What is your favorite amino acid?”
The banquet culminated in an awards ceremony. Dr. Autumn Sutherlin, professor of chemistry, announced the two or three outstanding presentations in five categories.
Kelsey Young, senior biochemistry major from Pago Pago, American Samoa, earned recognition for her computer video simulation of organic molecules smashing into surfaces – which resembled a cluster of balloons hurtling into a children’s ball pit.
The presentation by David Degge, senior music education major from Dallas, was not only a winner but Sutherlin’s favorite project to announce, with its title Dig-ga dut dut dig-ga dut dut: Drumming with Steve Reich.
Perkins, too, received an award for her biochemistry research and was surprised to find a $100 check came along with every certificate of excellence. She said she hadn’t known about the cash prizes when she registered for the festival; she just wanted to let people know about the work she had done.
She joked that her research mentor Sutherlin might advise her on how to spend the prize money as well as her project.
“I have no idea what I’ll do with the money,” Perkins said. “I might give it to Dr. Sutherlin for all the beakers I’ve broken.”
Students recognized for outstanding presentations:
Poster presentations in the social sciences, humanities and arts
Sandra Amstutz – An analysis of the blogging trends of 18 to 25-year-olds and how this affects the future of blogs
Tami Trylko – Improving infection control through evidence-based design strategies for a community hospital
Poster presentations in science, technology and mathematics
Nathan Pickle, Colter Lane – Construction and testing of a tunable infrared diode laser
Holly Perkins – Expression, purification and characterization of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Synthase double-mutant enzyme A110G/79A and the characterization of HMGS mutants D184A, D184N and S308A from enterococcus faecalis
Tyler Hague – Using geometry description markup language to store the geometry of FNAL E-906
Oral presentations in arts and humanities
Erin Halstead – The authoritarian voice in the speech of college-aged women
David Degge – Dig-ga dut dut dig-ga dut dut: Drumming with Steve Reich
Oral presentations in science, technology and mathematics
Jason Davis – Use of a naturally occurring source of sulfur to control gastrointestinal nematodes in small ruminants
Brittany Kight – iPhone and iPad research
Kelsey Young – Energy transfer, fragmentation and chemical reactivity of peptides with modified F-SAM surfaces
Oral presentations in social sciences
Michelle Woods, Ashley Henderson – The importance of effective professional development
Barrett Lawson, Jordan Traub – Online gaming and life satisfaction: A social study of the World of Warcraft