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Discovery DiscoveryMay 1999
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Undergraduates Talk about Tourism, Injury Recovery and Other Topics at Conference


by Evelyn Boswell

Five years ago, Jessica Jacobsen was skiing down a mountain when she crashed into a tree and broke her pelvis in two places.

The coaches who saw the accident thought they'd be attending a funeral, Jacobsen said at the eighth annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference at MSU-Bozeman. Instead, she underwent therapy and competed in the World Junior Alpine Skiing Championships at Lake Placid, N.Y. two months after her accident. She finished as America's top junior female in the slalom.

She was able to recover so quickly because of aquatic therapy, Jacobsen told her listeners. Exercising in a swimming pool made it possible for her to walk with a cane two weeks after her accident, ski after one month and race in two months.

"Aquatic therapy uses the properties and principles of water to bring about a therapeutic result," Jacobsen said.

She was so intrigued by her recovery that she researched aquatic therapy for an English project and ended up sharing her findings at the April 15 conference that showcased the research projects of nearly 80 MSU undergraduate students.

Other students presented their research on Bozeman's downtown, sugar beet roots, butchering tools at Ulm Pishkun, bacteria in space, and protein engineering.

Callie Eastburn wanted more experience with insects, so she took on some 300 grain weevils. Planning to study entomology in graduate school, she conducted a research project that analyzed the effects of temperature on the weevils' speed and mortality. She clocked the fastest weevil at 1.5 centimeters per second. She found that grain weevils could survive 24 hours with temperatures ranging from 5 to 35 degrees C. They died of dehydration when temperatures hovered between 35 and 45 degrees C.

The point was to help develop a more accurate way to estimate the number of weevils infesting stored grain, Eastburn said.

Sean McQuillen and Matt McKenna's project took them to Silver Valley, Idaho to survey residents about their attitudes toward tourism. The area used to rely on mining, but its economic based shifted to tourism in the mid-1980s. Maxwell Yanof compared the purpose of play as found in Hebrew scriptures and Grimms' Fairy Tales. Libby Johnson researched images of pregnancy and birth in Renaissance to modern paintings.

The first Undergraduate Scholars Conference had 13 undergraduate participants. Since then, the number has grown to as high as 90, and this is the third year that MSU has sent an undergraduate researcher to Washington, D.C. (See following story.)

Sharon Eversman, director of MSU's Undergraduate Scholars Program (USP) and organizer of this year's conference at MSU, said, "It's hard to get started on a project and get it so polished that you can present it to somebody else. It takes a lot of motivation on the student's part and shows they can do something besides learn out of books."

She still remembers pursuing her master's degree and her advisor saying, "We know you can learn out of books. What else can you do?" Eversman added.

The question is one she now asks her students, Eversman said.

Evelyn Boswell writes for Communications Services and the Vice President for Research Office.
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