Montana State University

Hundreds of MSU students to present research during series of April events

April 11, 2013 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN - Montana State University students have searched for beaver dams near West Yellowstone and studied indigenous languages on Montana's Indian reservations.

They've examined the knees of mice and rats, looking for ways to help people with osteoarthritis. They've studied dinosaur eggs in China, microorganisms in Antarctica, soap-making in Morocco, and issues related to Montanans donating personal collections to museums.

Now hundreds of MSU students who conducted research this school year will share those and other projects during a series of April events that are free and open to the public. Among the presenters will be five undergraduates who have won Goldwater Scholarships this year or last. The Goldwater is the nation's premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering.

Other presenters will be McNair Scholars, Hughes Scholars, graduate students and undergraduates conducting research as part of MSU's core curriculum. McNair Scholars are undergraduates who are either first-generation/low-income or minorities that are traditionally underrepresented at universities. Hughes Scholars, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, conduct research in the biomedical/bioscience fields.

MSU students also have a new opportunity to share their projects, said Colin Shaw, director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program at MSU. The university recently unveiled an online repository called ScholarWorks, which will allow MSU students to share their abstracts, posters and slide shows with a wider audience. It should benefit them in a variety of ways, including when they apply to graduate school, Shaw said.

"We are really happy to be one of the first people on the service," Shaw said."We think it will be a great thing for students to showcase their research."

Shaw added that MSU students already benefit by conducting research, whether it be part of the core curriculum which allows students to take baby steps into a sometimes intimidating world, or through an organized program like the Undergraduate Scholars Program or independently with a faculty mentor.

"Research is a way for them to take charge of their learning and take their knowledge beyond the classroom and apply it to real-world problems," Shaw said.

At least nine events this month will allow MSU students to share their research and creativity projects. A few examples are highlighted below.

One event, set for April 10 to 13, took nine MSU students to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to explain their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

Another event - this one local - will be the Earth Sciences Student Research Colloquium to be held from 4:15 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 12, in SUB Ballroom D, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in Gaines Hall 101. In addition to student presentations, the colloquium will include special speakers and a workshop on interview skills. For more details, go to https://sites.google.com/site/2013msuescolloquium/home/schedule.

The Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences will hold its student research symposium from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in SUB ballrooms B and D. Students will give oral presentations from 4 to 5 p.m. Keynote speaker, David Carlson, will speak from 5 to 5:30 p.m. on "Beyond Sputnik and the Double Helix: New Concepts for Environmental Science." Carlson is a renowned Arctic and climate scientist who served as director of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year. Students will present posters from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Montana INBRE will hold a research and training symposium from Wednesday through Friday, April 17 through 19.

The largest event - the Student Research Celebration -- will be held Thursday, April 18, in the Strand Union Building (SUB). It will include more than 250 presentations by undergraduate and graduate students in all MSU colleges. Among them is one project that explored the top five dangers for teenage drivers: night driving, speeding, alcohol, distractions and low seat belt use.In another, a fifth-generation Montanan photographed changes in Eastern Montana. In another, a student worked on an instrument to detect rare all-red auroras.

In addition to poster sessions in the morning and afternoon, the Student Research Celebration will include oral presentations throughout the day. The McNair Scholars will present their research from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in SUB 235. Sociology students will present their research from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in SUB Ballroom C. Hughes Scholars will present their biology research from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in SUB 235. Rhetoric topics will be presented from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in SUB Ballroom C. Literature topics will be presented from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in SUB Ballroom C. For more details, go to http://www.montana.edu/usp/pages/conference.html.

Also on Thursday, April 18, will be the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry student poster session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Byker Auditorium lobby.

The Montana Space Grant Consortium Student Research Symposium will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, April 19, in SUB Ballroom C. In addition to student presentations and lab tours, the symposium will feature two special speakers in SUB Ballroom D. Jaime Waydo, an MSU graduate who was NASA's mobility engineer on the Curiosity rover to Mars, will speak at 12:45 p.m. Brian Larsen, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, whose work involves the Van Allen Radiation Belts, will speak at 4 p.m. For other details and a full schedule, go to http://spacegrant.montana.edu/studentResearchSymposium.html.

The College of Engineering will hold a design fair from noon to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, in SUB Ballroom A. It will feature senior design capstone projects as well as engineering design mini-projects. Among those projects will be student entries into national competitions, including NASA's Lunabotics Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center and the AUVSI's RoboSub Competition in San Diego. For more details about the fair, go to http://calendar.msu.montana.edu/events/9332.

The Department of Education will hold its annual research symposium from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 25, in Reid 301. The symposium is a poster session to showcase historical, evaluation and educational research conducted by graduate students in the department's three program areas: adult and higher education, educational leadership, and curriculum and instruction.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu