Montana State University

Student Research Celebration set for April 9 at MSU

April 2, 2015 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – More than 200 college students, including the latest winners of the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, will present their research on Thursday, April 9, at Montana State University.

Free and open to the public, the Student Research Celebration will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Strand Union Building. Panel discussions will be given in SUB 233 and oral presentations in SUB 235. Students will present posters in ballrooms B, C and D, sometimes next door to a rare gathering of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) outside of Washington, D.C. The board, which advises the U.S. Agency for International Development on issues pertaining to food insecurity in developing countries, will be in Ballroom A from 1 to 3 p.m.

Students at the Student Research Celebration represent every academic college at MSU, with some coming from Montana Tech in Butte and Blackfeet Community College in Browning. They include graduate students and undergraduates who conducted research during this school year. Among them will be the recent Goldwater recipients -- Brigit Noon, Anna Scott and Riley Shearer – and students who will soon share their research nationally.

Twenty-four MSU students will present their projects April 16 through 18 at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash.

Will McGuinness of Parker, Colo., an MSU senior in microbiology, will present his research Thursday, April 23, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Each spring, the Council on Undergraduate Research hosts “Posters on the Hill” to help Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with student researchers. McGuinness was the only student from a Montana institution selected to participate. He investigates Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections, respiratory disease and food poisoning.

“I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Montana State University in Washington D.C.,” McGuinness said, adding that “My favorite aspects about research in microbiology are the fact that it is dynamic and progressive. Every day I am challenged, forced to find creative solutions, and required to learn every day.

“I hope to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. (medical scientist) in the future and I know studying microorganisms will always prove a stimulating and rewarding field of study,” McGuinness said. “Indeed, recent improvements in DNA sequencing technology -- among other methodologies -- have positioned microbiology for potential huge advancements in knowledge in the coming years.”

Abstracts for this year’s Student Research Celebration fill more than 90 pages and show that the student researchers carried out fieldwork as close as the MSU Duck Pond and as far away as Antarctica and space. They also researched a variety of topics from the humanities to the sciences.

One architecture student focused on restroom design, for example, while a math student analyzed the spread of Ebola in West Africa. A student in cell biology and neuroscience compared two varieties of spring wheat, while an animal and range student reviewed the reintroduction of beavers into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. A multidisciplinary team looked at health in Kenya after 10 years of work there by MSU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders. A student in American studies focused on indigenous and mainstream museums.

“One of the nice things about the Student Research Celebration is that you can see the results of science and engineering research and then, a few posters down, discover a creative ceramics or photography project or a scholarly project on history,” said Colin Shaw, director of the Undergraduate Scholars Program, which organizes the Student Research Celebration. “I think the students enjoy seeing the variety of projects and discussing their work with some of their peers who have very different interests.”   

The students all had faculty mentors, including some of MSU’s most prestigious professors, as well as young faculty members who have been in the news recently for major accomplishments.

“Our students have access to a really wide range of hands-on learning opportunities because of the vibrant research enterprise here at MSU,” Shaw said. “Instead of just learning about cutting-edge scientific discoveries in a lecture, students have an opportunity to participate in the process of discovery first-hand by working with internationally renowned faculty at MSU.

“This is true for humanities scholarship, creative arts and engineering, too,” Shaw said. “The research celebration shows that research is closely integrated with learning. I don’t think the public always understands how much research enhances the education of our students.”

The schedule and topics for panel discussions are:

9 to 10:30 a.m. – “New Media, Re-imagining Writing Center Connections.”

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – “From Renaissance London to Infinite Space: On William Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton.”

1 to 2:30 p.m. – “Sustaining/Revitalizing Indigenous Knowledge to Advance Science Learning in Contrasting USA and Russia Mountain Systems.”

The schedule and topics for oral presentations are:

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – “McNair Scholars Program.”

1 to 2:30 p.m. – “Math and Statistics Interdisciplinary Research.”


Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or