Brandi Cobe, Nicholas Potter, Marissa Greathouse, Siva Shankar and Durward Bevis were among 40 undergraduates who stood by their research and explained it Thursday in University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s student showcase.
Drawn from multiple academic disciplines — including science, music and art — the participants made it readily apparent they’re not the kind of students whose main concern is knowing what questions will be on the professor’s exam or the minimal requirements to pass.
Not only were they excited to exhibit their own work, but many of them were genuinely interested in learning and talking about each other’s presentations.
“It’s all due to student research,” said Shankar, a junior with a double major in physics and pre-med. “As students we tend to be explorative and want to know what’s going on in the world around us.”
He and 25 other students showcased technical posters detailing results of their research from current and ongoing projects.
Working with UW-Parkside physics professor Pirooz “Paul” Mohazzabi, Shankar displayed study results on a poster titled “Damping of a Simple Pendulum due to Drag on It’s String.”
The showcase highlighted how much students can achieve by working closely with respected scientists like Mohazzabi.
“It’s a good way to pursue education,” Shankar said.
Cobe is majoring in molecular biology and bio-informatics.
Already a co-author with Mohazzabi on a physics article in a peer-reviewed science journal, she is on the verge of publishing again, this time as co-author with UW-Parkside graduate Julie Kessler and biology professor Gregory Richards.
Her poster illustrated results of their collaborative research into how cells respond to sugar stress based on work Richards began when he was doing his doctoral dissertation. It focuses on two previously unknown cell “regulators.”
“We found that there are two additional regulators involved in this sugar response other than just the two regulators that already are well-known and researched,” Conde said.
The hope is research into issues — for example diabetes — can one day benefit from the knowledge developed through the project, Conde added.
Bevis, 34, served eight years in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, serving on deployments as a combat medic in Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds certificates in green chemistry and laboratory studies. His research with chemistry professor Lori Allen measured the comparative mercury levels in various wild-caught and farm-raised fish species.
Moving forward, Bevis, a chemistry major with minors in math and biology, hopes UW-Parkside will get its mass spectrometer online again so they can additionally gauge the levels of zinc, cadmium, lead, gallium and aluminum in fish.
He pointed to the astonishingly small levels of mercury federal regulating agencies consider safe in consuming fish before he underscored the levels their study found in several different fish popularly found on people’s plates.
Standing at her poster between Bevis and Shankar, Marissa Greathouse, 20, of Kenosha, displayed the results of her and Rick Caldwell’s experiments under the direction of biology professor Fabian Preuss.
They determined the changes in resting and eating behaviors — as well as the increased susceptibility to alcoholism — caused by weekday and weekend disruptions in the normal patterns of nocturnal mice.
“This is important,” Greathouse said, “because, if you’re third-shift worker or somebody who doesn’t have a regular sleep schedule, this can affect your everyday health. When you lose out on sleep, your body and its functions become desynchronized. That can make you more sensitive and susceptible to alcohol use.”
Potter said he was the latest student to become involved in geosciences professor John Skalbeck’s ongoing studies of the Albion Basin’s surface and groundwater flow in Utah’s Alta recreation area, where the basin is an important water resource for Salt Lake City.
He presented research showing the per-person, per-acre residency limit the basin can support determined by water flow measurements based on the contributions of groundwater and rainfall.
“Understanding the science, the hydro-geology of an area, helps you better manage, protect and develop wetland areas,” Potter, a UW-Parkside junior, said. “In the Wisconsin area, we have an excess of water. But, in drier areas, every drop of water is important.”