Science / Technology and Health

Student Research

Written by Mike Thee

May 20, 2015

Dean Michael Quinn talks with students about their research projects during an open house

SU's commitment to student research was on full display Friday, May 8.

Seattle University's commitment to student research was on full and impressive display Friday, May 8. The Celebration of Student Research featured more than 120 scholarly works and activities of SU's undergraduate and graduate students. 

Meena Rishi, undergraduate research coordinator, kicked off the day's events, highlighting the importance of "inquiry-driven learning" and pointing out that SU sent 19 students to this year's National Conference on Undergraduate Research, held in Cheney, Wash. 

Bill Ehmann, associate provost for research and graduate education, spoke of SU's recent success in garnering funding for research, sharing that about 60 percent of the grant proposals submitted by faculty last year were funded-an impressive rate of success, he said. Much of this support, Ehmann added, allows faculty to engage students in research and scholarly activities. 

One project examined how education level influences the amount of time women and men in heterosexual couples spend in housework. Asha DuMonthier (economics and women and gender studies '15), working with faculty mentor Bridget Hiedemann, associate professor of economics, found that as women's education level increased, they spent less time in housework. In men, the opposite effect was observed; as men's education level increased, she surmised, "they develop a more egalitarian gender ideology and spent more time in housework."

As DuMonthier was speaking on empirical findings related to gender roles, Garrett Budnik (pictured above, center)  was just a few steps away, waxing poetic on quarks and gluons. While much of what the senior physics major shared was beyond the comprehension of this author, his passion for the experience was unmistakable. "Awesome" is how he described his first foray into theoretical research, which he conducted with faculty mentor Mary Alberg, professor of physics. (Alberg, you may remember, was recently named a fellow of the American Physical Society, a distinction that only one-half of a percent of all the society's members can claim.) Budnik is looking forward to beginning graduate studies this summer at the University of Oregon. 

Gabe Kaemingk's research was similarly impressive-and elusive to the non-scientific mind. With faculty mentor Patrick Murphy, associate professor in the College of Nursing, Kaemingk analyzed how a team of proteins forms and binds to a receptor. While the sophomore is shifting his major from biology to economics, he says he's gotten a lot out of the research project. "It's a very unique undergraduate experience, (working in) Dr. Patrick Murphy's lab," Kaemingk said. "Everyone has a high level independence and he trusts us. I really threw myself into the project and (developed) lots of organizational skills."