May 31, 2011

SIUC students win top honors at research forum

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale dominated an undergraduate research forum featuring students from St. Louis-area colleges and universities and hosted by SIUC earlier this month.

SIUC students took the top three awards as well as honorable mention awards at the St. Louis Area Undergraduate Research Symposium, held May 7 at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center south of Carbondale. The event included student researchers from SIU’s Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri St. Louis, and St. Louis University.

Students organize the annual springtime event, which provides a unique forum to showcase the undergraduate research done by students from a variety of universities in the region, said John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school at SIUC.

“This is a regional competition, and going back to the very first one five or six years ago, SIUC students have always fared very well,” Koropchak said. “However, this result ofSIUC studentswinning five of six awards is unprecedented.

“At the same time, kudos go toall of the students who participated,including those from Wash U, SLU, UMSL and SIUE. The presentations that I attended were all extremely impressive for their quality, and potential impact to society,” he said.

The symposiums have given hundreds of undergraduates from participating universities the opportunity to present research or creative projects in a professional setting. All undergraduates conducting research or creative projects and who are working with a faculty mentor are eligible to submit an application and abstract of their project.

Participating students learn about their peers’ creative projects and research at the event. They also have an opportunity to converse with faculty members, interact with representatives from industry and learn from invited speakers and members of the greater St. Louis and Midwest scientific community, who also are invited to the event.

Students have the option of presenting their research work in poster format, orally or both. Posters displays remain in place throughout the day with their presenters on hand to answer questions and discuss their results.

Faculty and student judges from the participating universities review all presentations, with a faculty moderator coordinating each session.

The best overall presentation won $500; second place, $250, third, $125, and honorable mention, $75.

This year, SIUC’s winning students included:

• First place: Shannon R. Berg, a chemistry major from Altamont for “Development of Techniques for Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) of Fully Hydrated Plant Samples: Phytotoxicity of Silver Nanoparticles Case Study.” Berg’s faculty mentor was Andrei Kolmakov, associate professor of physics. Berg’s parents are Herbert H. and Elaine M. Berg of Altamont.

•Second place: Karla Keller Avelar, a criminal justice major from Northlake, for “Applying Broken Windows Theory to Carbondale Communities.” Avelar’s faculty mentor was Tammy Rinehart Kochel, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice. She is the daughter of Gloria E. Avelar Keller of Northlake.

• Third place: Derreck W. Langwith, a linguistics major from Sparta, for “Computer Mediated Discourse: Applying Defamation Laws of Slander and Libel in the 21st Century.” Langwith’s faculty mentor was Bill Freivogel, director of the SIUC School of Journalism. He is the son of Donald G. Langwith Sr. and Loretta A. Stock of Sparta.

• Honorable mention: Julia L. Sheffler, a psychology major from Warsaw, for “Habits and Lifestyles of Successfully Aging Women in a Rural Area.” Sheffler’s faculty mentor was Stephanie Clancy Dollinger, associate professor of psychology. She is the daughter of Steven T. and Pamala R. Sheffler of Warsaw.

• Honorable mention: Jordan L. Kabat, a mechanical engineering major from Scheller, for “Analytical Study of Parameters for Scale-Up Fabrication of Carbon Nanotubes.” Kabat’s faculty mentor was Kanchan Mondal, associate professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes. Kabat’s parents are Mark and Lori Kabat of Scheller.

Koropchak credited students and SIUC staff members for organizing a successful event.

“I am very proud of (students) Kelsey Jarrett, Brock Kabat and Kate Zimmerman, who with the help of Meg Martin from our staff, did a great job ofhosting all the students, faculty and parents visiting from the other institutions,” he said.