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Seattle University

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Active Minds

Written by Mike Thee
May 20, 2013

An impressive array of academic inquiry was on display May 10 as SU students shared the fruits of their scholarly labors.

"The celebration included 87 presentations and 16 posters by undergraduates," said Meena Rishi, associate professor of economics and coordinator of undergraduate research. "A novelty of this year's event were sessions focused on graduate students," with 11 graduate students presenting their work.

More than 63 faculty members provided guidance on the projects, which ran the gamut from "Improving noninvasive methods for the detection of Down Syndrome," to "Aid Reform as a Solution to Poverty in Honduras," to "Chaperones Aren't Just for Middle School Dances: Improving Eukaryotic Protein Expression Utilizing the Hsp90-based Chaperone Machine."

Posters included "Stress Related Chocolate Consumption Among College Students," "Harmonic Distortion in Improvised Power Systems," and "Addressing Middle School Bullying and Promoting a Culture of Peace."

Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs Connie Kanter listens as psychology undergraduate student Hilary Smith explains how her research confirmed that stress leads to increased chocolate consumption among college students.

Joining Rishi in welcoming the crowd was Bill Ehmann, associate provost for research and graduate education. Ehmann said, "I'm happy to see we are linking undergraduate and graduate (research) because we are all involved (in this) as kindred spirits."

Ehmann spoke of research and other scholarly activity as "evidence of an active mind" and very much in alignment with the Jesuits, who he called "consummate explorers of the unknown." Ehmann also stressed the importance of placing research into context. "Why we do what we do (is just as important) as what we do."

Ten of the featured students had their papers and posters accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which was held in LaCrosse, Wisc., this year. An additional 15 students presented at other national and regional gatherings. Their travel was supported by the university and Office of Research Services and Sponsored Projects.

Four SU students have won awards and recognitions at these conferences for their research:

  • Kelly Biette for best undergraduate poster in the category of Cell Signaling at the Experimental Biology Conference (faculty adviser: Patrick Murphy, associate professor in the College of Nursing).
  • Benjamin Neilson for best poster in his division at the West Coast Undergraduate Research Conference (faculty adviser: Ian Suydam, assistant professor of chemistry)
  • Susan Chinisci for best personal essay at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (faculty adviser: Larry Nichols, director of the Writing Center)
  • Jenny Bray for best paper at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (faculty adviser: Nalini Iyer, director of the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Projects)