April 10, 2009

Student wins prize at research symposium

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE -- A Southern Illinois University Carbondale student won a prize at recent competition in St. Louis for undergraduate researchers.

Sixteen SIUC students competed in the annual St. Louis Area Undergraduate Research Symposium, Saturday April 4. The SIUC team competed with teams from Saint Louis University, Washington University, Webster University and SIU-Edwardsville.

“All of our students gained valuable experience,” said John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and graduate dean.

Brenna Towery, a sophomore in zoology from Pekin and a member of the University Honors Program, won an award at the competition for her project titled “Does Egg Position in the Nest Bowl Influence Hatching Synchrony?” Towery’s faculty mentor is Michael W. Eichholz, associate professor of zoology and a member of the SIUC Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory.

Towery was one of three students who did oral presentations at the event, which is aimed showcasing superior research efforts by undergraduates throughout the region. The competition included an additional 40 poster presentations, and Towery’s presentation competed with all of those, as well as the other oral presentations, said Meg Zimlich Martin, research project specialist and director of the Research-Enriched Academic Challenge program at SIUC.

Judges awarded a total of six prizes to students. Towery tied for third.

“Like SIUC’s Undergraduate Research Forum, (this competition) gives students the opportunity to present the results of research or creative projects that they have completed with a faculty mentor,” Martin said. “Undergraduate research benefits students by showing them how what they learned in the classroom can translate into real world applications, teaches them problem-solving skills and gives them a look at life in academia.

“Research symposiums allow students to hone their presentation skills and share their excitement and knowledge about their work with others. Symposiums like this one allow them to both compete and network with student researchers from different universities, similar to the experience their faculty mentors have at professional conferences,” she said.