Montana State University

MSU students present projects at national conference that promotes undergraduate research

May 31, 2017 -- Denise Hoepfner, MSU News Service

Savanah Leidholt presents her project on the comparison between rural and urban fox vocalizations at the National Conferences for Undergraduate Research, held April 2017 at the University of Memphis. In 2020, MSU will host the conference, which is expected to draw more than 4,000 students.  Photo courtesy of Kevin Jones.Taylor Oeschger presents her project, "Application of Laser Etching and 3D Printed Polymers for Modeling Ice Vein Habitats" at the National Conferences for Undergraduate Research, held April 2017 at the University of Memphis.In 2020, MSU will host the conference, which is expected to draw more than 4,000 students.  Photo courtesy of Kevin Jones.

Savanah Leidholt presents her project on the comparison between rural and urban fox vocalizations at the National Conferences for Undergraduate Research, held April 2017 at the University of Memphis. In 2020, MSU will host the conference, which is expected to draw more than 4,000 students. Photo courtesy of Kevin Jones.

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BOZEMAN – What does the fox say? That depends on where the fox lives, says Montana State University senior Savanah Leidholt, who presented her project comparing the communication patterns of Bozeman’s urban and rural fox populations at a national conference that promotes undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity.

“I wanted to see how anthropogenic factors such as population density, pets and urban sprawl would affect how the foxes in two different locations -- urban and rural -- would communicate with one another,” said Leidholt, who is majoring in conservation biology and ecology in the MSU College of Letters and Science.

“Not much is known about other animals’ language,” she said. “The hope is that this will shed light on how the red fox will change its behavior in response to environmental changes as Bozeman and other areas expand.” 

Leidholt is one of 13 MSU undergraduate researchers who presented their research on a range of projects, such as the evolution of human pregnancy and the potential use of algae as biofuel, at the 31st annual National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, held in April at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

Leidholt said she was excited to present at the conference again this year as well as take advantage of the learning opportunities.

“This conference was cool because we were able to pick different presentations to go to and listen to what other students were working on,” she said. “On top of that, there were keynote speakers each day of the conference.”

In 2020, MSU is slated to host the three-day conference that draws more than 4,000 of the brightest minds from institutions of higher learning across the country and across disciplines to share their scholarly work, said Colin Shaw, director of MSU’s Undergraduate Scholars Program.

“Hosting NCUR 2020 will provide a stellar opportunity to showcase our students’ research on a national stage,” Shaw said. “The conference will raise the profile of undergraduate research at MSU, in the Bozeman community and throughout the northern Rocky Mountain region.”

Additionally, the opportunity to partner with other Montana institutions will foster collaborations that will help enhance student research in the future, Shaw said.  

Many of the MSU students who presented their projects at the conference participate in the Undergraduate Scholars Program, Montana INBRE, the McNair Scholars program, the MSU Honors College, or other programs on campus that support students’ pursuit of undergraduate research.

“Undergraduate research brings together the core MSU values of learning, discovery and engagement with the community, region and world,” Shaw said. “Students apply their knowledge to solve scientific problems, design engineering solutions, delve into the human condition or create works of art that help us see the world in different ways.”

Leidholt, who participates in USP and is a McNair Scholar, said she feels the experience she gained at NCUR will give her an edge in pursing postgraduate education.

“NCUR was such an incredible learning experience, and I think that having presented at a national conference will show the graduate schools I apply to how serious I am about performing research,” she said.

Students who presented their research at the conference are: (Year of study noted is the student’s standing at the time of the conference.)

Nathan Blaseg, a junior from Pierre, South Dakota, majoring in microbiology in MSU’s College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science -- Poster: “The Role of IFN-y Induced IL-10R1 Expression in Restitution of Epithelial Barrier Function during Intestinal Inflammation”

Erica Eggleton, a senior from Alexandria, Virginia, majoring in chemical engineering in MSU’s College of Engineering -- Poster: “Diffusion Layer Saturation Analysis of PEM Fuel Cells”

Brooke Filanoski, a senior from Homedale, Idaho, majoring in chemical engineering in MSU’s College of Engineering -- Poster: “Microbial Induced Calcium Carbonate Precipitation of Coal Combustion Residuals”

Emily Hultin, a senior from Helena majoring in chemical engineering in MSU’s College of Engineering-- Oral Session: “Characterization of Antarctic Algae for Biofuel Potential”

Kevin Jones, a senior from Shelby, North Carolina, majoring in organismal biology in MSU’s College of Letters and Science – Poster: “The Evolution of Human Pregnancy”

Debra Kraner, a junior from Staunton, Illinois, majoring in sustainable food and bioenergy systems, an interdisciplinary program between MSU’s College of Agriculture and College of Education, Health and Human Development -- Poster: “Impacts of Environmental and Management Factors on the Nutritional Quality of Mint, Spinach, Tomatoes, Basil and Pak Choi and Correlation with the Functional Quality of Chinese Medicinal Herbs”

Savanah Leidholt, a senior from Miles City majoring in conservation biology and ecology in MSU’s College of Letters and Science -- Poster: “What Does the Fox Say? A Comparison of Rural and Urban Red Fox Vocalizations”

Uriel Menalled, a junior from Bozeman majoring in sustainable foods and bioenergy systems, an interdisciplinary program between MSU’s College of Agriculture and College of Education, Health and Human Development -- Poster: “Understanding the Effects of Herbicide Application on Hoary Alyssum (Berteroa incana L.) Seed Biology”

Taylor Oeschger, a senior from Sacramento, California, majoring in chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering -- Oral Session: “Application of Laser Etching and 3D Printed Polymers for Modeling Ice Vein Habitats”

Rita Park, a senior from Butte majoring in microbiology in MSU’s College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science -- Poster: “Effect of Coal Particle Size on Microbial Methanogenesis in the Presence of Oxygen”

Hanna Showers, a senior from Missoula majoring in chemical engineering in MSU’s College of Engineering -- Oral Session: “Rheological and Atomic Force Microscopy Investigation of Carotenoid Pigmented Antarctic Heterotrophic Bacteria”

Kevin Surya, a sophomore from Bandung, Indonesia, majoring in paleontology in MSU’s College of Letters and Science -- Oral Session: “Pelvic Sexual Dimorphism in Modern Birds (Aves: Neorniths) and its Evolutionary Relationship with Relative Egg Size”

Rachel Ulrich, a post-baccalaureate from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring in mathematical sciences in MSU’s College of Letters and Science -- Oral Session: “Aging, Health and Neurocognitive Decline: A Cluster Analysis”

Colin Shaw, director of MSU's Undergraduate Scholars Program, colinshaw1@montana.edu or (406) 994-6760