Friday August 4, 2017

Summer Science Research Symposium

This summer, University of Dayton sophomore Jordan Dubbs drove 45 minutes each way to campus, five days a week, from his home in Arcanum, Ohio, to research the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease in the laboratory of associate professor of biology Amit Singh.

Despite the time and effort involved, Dubbs said his research was worth it.

"I intend to go to medical school and this really can help build my resume, build my background in biology and genetics, and let me apply the knowledge that I learn in the classroom now, instead of when I get to medical school," he said.

Dubbs was one of more than 25 undergraduate students who presented their research last week at the 2017 Summer Science Research Symposium. The second annual event showcasing the quality and breadth of undergraduate science research at the University featured seven oral presentations and 19 poster presentations from across the natural sciences and engineering disciplines.

University President Eric F. Spina, Provost Paul Benson and Don Pair, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean for interdisciplinary research and experiential initiatives, attended the day-long event in the Science Center.

The plenary speaker was Anil Pradhan, an Ohio State University astronomy professor who is also affiliated faculty in that school's chemical physics and graduate biophysics programs.

Faculty-mentored summer research projects give undergraduate students three months to focus on a problem in detail, when they are not encumbered by busy academic course schedules, said assistant professor of physics Jay Mathews, who organized the symposium.

"Five to 10 hours a week just isn't enough, so when students spend that time during the summer, they just get so much more out of it," Mathews said.

Undergraduate research also helps students stand out against other job and internship applicants by giving them professional skills valued by employers — problem-solving, hands-on experience working with technology and applying classroom knowledge to real-world situations.

"That is a real valuable experience and ultimately translates into a better employee," Mathews said.

The student oral presentations included pre-medicine, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, and electrical and mechanical engineering majors.

Nathan Miller, a senior physics major from Bellbrook, Ohio, discussed his summer research on quantum applications to measurement, which involves taking advantage of certain properties of novel forms of light to take measurements in situations in which it was previously not possible.

Miller said he enjoyed sharing his research with faculty, staff and students outside the laboratory setting.

"You have to put it all together and actually think about how you are going to explain it to everyone," Miller said. "It was a cool experience."

Amanda Finke, a senior environmental biology major from Enon, Ohio, presented a poster illustrating her summer research on the differences among insect communities in 13 natural and constructed prairies in the Dayton region. Creating the poster required her to organize her data so that it made sense to viewers.

Dubbs, who found evidence that a high-sugar diet advanced the progression of Alzheimer's disease in fruit flies more than a low-sugar diet, also presented his research during the poster session.

Miller, Finke and Dubbs all received funding from the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Summer Fellowship program, which provides undergraduate students with high-impact experiential learning opportunities and is supported by the Dean's Fund for Excellence.

"It provided me with a stipend to do this research that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do myself," Finke said. "It is a great opportunity to jump into the research field and get an idea of it before I graduate."

Other students received support from the University’s STEM Catalyst initiative and the School of Engineering's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE).

The symposium was supported by the College, Sigma Xi and chemistry professor Shawn Swavey, the Brother Leonard A. Mann, S.M. Chair in the Sciences.

Mathews hopes the symposium continues to grow as an annual campus event. He noted that expanding research in fields that benefit humanity and help build an innovation economy in Dayton is part of the University’s strategic vision.

"We have a number of great undergrads here and they have been an invaluable resource for faculty research," Mathews said. "Having a good quality student body is key to that, and that is one of the things that makes UD unique and allows us to do such great undergraduate research."

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

2017 SUMMER student researchers

Student Major(s) Advisor
Steven Borchers Premedicine Amit Singh
Lydia Payton Premedicine Amit Singh
Katarzyna Solomianko Premedicine, Chemistry Jeremy Erb
Tony Pierce Computer Science Phu Phung
Dylan Flaute Electrical Engineering, Mathematics Catherine Kublik
John Schultz Mechanical Engineering Kimberly Bigelow
Nathaniel Miller Physics William Plick
Jordan Dubbs Biology Amit Singh
Manisha Kullar Biology at The Ohio State University Amit Singh
Anthony Rose Premedicine Amit Singh
Amanda Finke Environmental Biology Chelse Prather
Benjamin Schmuesser Premedicine Karolyn Hansen
Michelle Borchers Premedicine Madhuri Kango-Singh
Minh Ho Premedicine Madhuri Kango-Singh
Logan Roebke Premedicine Madhuri Kango-Singh
Elizabeth Kramer Biology Mark Nielsen
Emily Flaherty Biology Pothitos Pitychoutis
Joseph Saurine Biology, Biochemistry Pothitos Pitychoutis
John Weis Premedicine Yvonne Sun
Cameron Crasto Chemical Engineering Kristen Comfort
Sarah Hollis Mechanical Engineering Kimberly Bigelow
Anna Mathews Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University Imad Agha
Logan Cordonnier Physics Said Elhamri
John Kunkel Physics Said Elhamri
William Poston Physics Said Elhamri
Danielle Smith Physics Said Elhamri
Steven Cap Computer Science Phu Phung

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