Symposium highlights undergraduate achievement, research

Fish jaws, shower mildew, honeybees, rat brains and social media were all part of Thursday’s second-annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the EMU.@@

The symposium was one in a series of events that made up the University’s inaugural Celebrate Undergraduate Achievement Week. Approximately 140 undergraduate students presented their research Thursday afternoon.

“The turnout has been considerable,” said Alex Fus,@@[email protected]@ University senior and assistant event organizer. “The symposium has expanded a great deal from last year. The logistics are more complicated, but it’s so much more visible and more of an event. I feel like this year more students invited their families to show off what they do.”

Braden Larson,@@[email protected]@ a senior and lab assistant for Dr. Charles Kimmel,@@[email protected]@ focused his research on two genes that control jaw development in zebrafish. Those same genes function the same way in humans and may influence common deformities, such as cleft palates in infants.

Fus said that it’s good for students to conduct research early in their college careers.

“Studies have shown that the sooner undergraduates get involved in University research,” Fus said, “the likelier they are to stay in school and succeed in higher education.”

Numerous administrators and faculty attended the symposium, including Robert D. Clark Honors College Dean David Frank, Director of Housing Michael Griffel and Dean of Students Paul Shang.@@[email protected]@

University senior Kirsten Lopez@@[email protected]@ always wanted to study archaeology outside the United States. She presented research she conducted in the Mediterranean island Malta, where she had worked at a local museum.

She discovered two containers filled with human bones and ancient pottery. Lured by the mystery of the find, Lopez eventually discovered that the boxes contained pottery more than 5,000 years old from an era known as the Tarxien period. The finding was significant, and she hopes to return to Malta next year.

Professor Kevin Hatfield,@@[email protected]@ one of the primary event organizers, explained the inspiration behind the symposium: “The purpose is twofold: to provide an opportunity for undergraduate researchers to share their original creation of knowledge with peers, faculty and the community,” he said. “Second, to show undergraduate students opportunities to engage in scholarship.”

The symposium concluded with an awards ceremony in the EMU Ballroom. Each participant received a certificate.

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