Montana State University

MSU undergraduates explain research at annual conference

April 10, 2007 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service


Kevin Connolly tries to placate a hungry monkey in Kyiv, Ukraine. This is one of many locations featured in his photography series, "People are Curious." (Photo courtesy of Kevin Connolly).   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
BOZEMAN -- Kevin Connolly has spent the past year rolling up, down, around and across the world on a skateboard. Born without legs but with an adventurous spirit, the Montana State University student who prefers skateboards to wheelchairs noticed that everyone responded to him in the same way. They were curious.

"A beggar in Boston looks exactly the same way as a banker in Vienna. A police officer in New York City looks the same as an old woman in Dublin," said Connolly, a Helena native and MSU junior in media and theatre arts.

Connolly photographed people while they were observing him and presented his project Tuesday, April 10, during MSU's Undergraduate Scholars Conference in the Strand Union Building. His was one of approximately 95 projects presented by 110 MSU undergraduates who conducted research or creative projects this school year. Other students studied such things as underground coal beds, the relationship between bad breath and biofilms, the scoop on dinosaur poop, bioprospecting in Yellowstone National Park and nursing stereotypes. They explained their projects orally, musically or with posters.

One of the presenters, Kelly Conde of Boise, Idaho, will go on to participate April 25 in the Conference on Undergraduate Research "Posters on the Hill" in Washington, D.C. Conde is a senior in environmental science and one of 75 students chosen to display a poster at the Capitol.

Another presenter at Tuesday's conference was Mackenzie Parker of Colstrip, one of the elite undergraduates who received a Beckman Scholarship to conduct research over two summers and the intervening academic year.

Steven Holmgren, director of MSU Undergraduate Scholars Program and organizer of the MSU conference, praised the value of undergraduate research.

"Engaging in an undergraduate research project gives our students the opportunity to become fully engaged in the scholarly work of their discipline," Holmgren said. "This is typically a critical formative experience which greatly influences students' career choices in the future."

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