April 25, 2011

Students win awards for research, creative efforts

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A baker’s dozen of up-and-coming researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale walked away from a recent forum showcasing their work with awards.

The Undergraduate Research Forum took place April 11. The annual event celebrates and recognizes the research and creativity of undergraduate students, displaying their efforts in conducting those activities. The event was part of the Chancellor’s Inauguration Week activities, which highlighted the campus, faculty and students.

The Undergraduate Research Forum began in 2002 and is part of the Research-Enriched Academic Challenge -- or REACH -- at the University. This year, it coincided with national Undergraduate Research Week, as declared by the U.S. House of Representatives and celebrated by the Council on Undergraduate Research, a national organization of which SIUC is a member.

John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the SIUC graduate school, said the program stresses the importance of immersing undergraduates in the research experience early in their careers as a means of promoting scholarship and academic curiosity, as well as providing valuable hands-on experience in the field, laboratory or studio.

Sponsored by the Office of Research Development and Administration and the Office of the Provost, the event featured a poster session highlighting original research and creative activities by SIUC undergraduates, who worked under the guidance of faculty mentors. Posters explained their research or creative methods, with the best projects winning prizes. About 80 students participated this year, with all University undergraduates engaged in original research or creative activities eligible to participate.

This year’s winners were:

First place

Kelsey E. Jarrett, a senior in microbiology from Coulterville, for “Deaf1 Increases p53 Levels in Transiently Transfected Kidney Cells.” The study looked at whether p53, a factor that regulates cell growth, cell repair and cell death, and Deformed Epidermal Autoregulatory Factor, which is linked to such maladies as depression, suicide, diabetes, and cancer, interact.

Jarrett’s faculty mentors were Jodi Huggenvik and Michael Collard, both associate professors of physiology. Jarrett is the daughter of Robert C. and Melissa L. Jarrett of Coulterville.

Jake Jasurda, a degreed senior in biological sciences from New Lenox, for “The forkhead transcription factor, FOXP3, is required for normal spermatogenesis.” The study examined the relationship between the immune system and the reproductive system by investigating the reproductive phenotype of mice with a mutation of FOXP3 factor.

Jasurda’s faculty mentor was Buffy Ellsworth, assistant professor of physiology. Jasurda is the son of Bruce S. and Suisie Jasurda of New Lenox.

Second place

Julia Sheffler, a senior in psychology from Warsaw, for “Habits and Lifestyles of Successfully Aging Women in a Rural Area.” The study examined factors related to successful aging in a sample of older women living in a rural area in the Midwest using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Sheffler’s faculty mentor was Stephanie Clancy Dollinger, associate professor of psychology. Sheffler is the daughter of Steven T. and Pamala R. Sheffler of Warsaw.

Third place

Brock A. Bailey, a senior in biological science from Mattoon, for “The role of FOXM1 in Lactotrope Cellsc Proliferation During Pregnancy.” The study sought to determine the molecular mechanisms affecting the development and function of the pituitary gland in humans.

Bailey’s faculty mentor was Buffy Ellsworth, assistant professor of physiology. He is the son of John E. and Jean A. Bailey.

Trey Beckerman, a junior in exercise science from Mount Carmel, for “The effects of using an external focus of attention when putting a golf ball.” The study examined whether increasing the distance of an external focus of attention improved learning and performance of a golf-putting task when compared to a baseline condition.

Beckerman’s faculty mentor was Jared Porter, assistant professor of kinesiology. Beckerman is the son of Terry W. and Beth A. Beckerman of Mount Carmel.

Honorable mention

Shant Alexanian, junior in automotive technology and mechanical engineering from Des Plaines, for “Refrigerated Intake Charge Systems.” The project applied the principles of refrigeration to the intake charge of an engine in order to increase fuel economy and horsepower while decreasing emissions.

Alexnian’s faculty mentor was Blaine Heisner, assistant instructor of automotive technology. Alexanian is the son of Shahan B. and Sibil Alexanian of Des Plaines.

Nicholas Defreitas, a sophomore in zoology from Springfield, for “Reevaluating the Phylogeny of Polygyridae, a Group of Common North American Forest Snails.” The study sought to clarify evolutionary relationships in Polygyridae, a diverse group of more than 300 species of relatively large North American land snails through gene sequencing.

Defreitas’ faculty mentor was Frank E. Anderson, associate professor of zoology. Defreitas is the son of John C. Defreitas and Michelle Defreitas of Springfield.

Ruby Roknic, a freshman in civil and environmental engineering from LaGrange Park, for “Ethanol production from soybean meal through yeast fermentation.” The study aimed to convert sugars present in soybean meal into ethanol through sugar extraction and yeast fermentation, exploring a novel approach to utilizing agricultural by-products to produce value-added chemicals and fuels.

Roknic’s faculty mentor was Yanna Liang, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Roknic is the daughter of David and Dorothy Roknic of LaGrange Park.

People’s Choice Award

Margaret M. Anderson, graduate student in forestry from Indianapolis, for “Growth response of mature oaks following TSI and prescribed burning treatments.” The study’s preliminary results found thinning and burning treatments did not increase oak growth when compared to the control. The results suggest that while thinning and prescribed fire may increase oak regeneration, additional management may be necessary to increase residual tree growth.

Anderson’s faculty mentor was Eric J. Holzmueller, assistant professor of forestry. She is the daughter of Loren C. and Joyce Anderson of Indianapolis.

Outstanding/Creative Project Award

Steven A. Kocher, Brandon Vieth and William Sedig for “Grasshopper, Rhinoceros, Arduino: Physical Exploration of Digital Protocol.” Their architecture project sought to develop a system for exploring the interface between a physical, interactive system and digital modeling software. Shai Yeshayahu, associate professor or architecture, was the faculty mentor for the project.

Kocher, a senior in architectural studies, is the son of Fred P. and Sharon K. Kocher of Chatham.

Vieth, a senior in architectural studies from Edwardsville, is the son of Ronald J. Vieth of Edwardsville and Sharon K. Jaggie of Glen Carbon.

Sedig, a senior in architectural studies, is the son of Louis J. and Kathy A. Sedig of Morrison.

Independent Research Award

Erga Lemish, a freshman in psychology from Carbondale, for “Gender Differences in Object Location Memory.” The study examined the influence of gender on two forms of object memory -- object location memory and object identity memory -- under conditions in which the scanning process could be systematically observed and measured.

Lemish’s faculty mentor was Matthew Schlesinger, associate professor of psychology. Lemish is the daughter of Peter and Dafna Lemish of Carbondale.