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Science undergrads shine during Research Poster Symposium


The Moore siblings, (from left) Rhianna, Connor and Aidan Moore, were part of the 2017 Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium at Purdue.

Among the near 300 Purdue students vying for cash prizes as well as feedback on their recent work, the Moore siblings were given their own row at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium held in the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms.

The April 11 afternoon event buzzed with students passionately discussing their research with judges, interested professors and fellow undergrads. Twins Connor and Rhianna Moore and little brother Aidan Moore did the same.

The Moore’s are all College of Science students. The twins are in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences while Aidan found his path in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“Rihanna had a lot of the same classes right after me so I gave her some tips,” Connor Moore said, “but we all pretty much left each other alone to find our own science niche.”

The Moore siblings from Zionsville, Indiana, showed well but were shutout in terms of awards.

Connor Moore’s work combined his Earth Science studies with his lifelong interest in paleontology. The senior displayed evolutionary trees of prehistoric birds and horses. The connection of dinosaurs and birds is a deep well that extends millions of years. The evolution of horses is “younger.” However, Connor Moore found that the timelines connect. The tree also clearly illustrates ancient horses’ march across continents as they drifted. Evolutionary changes followed over the millions of years.

“I used paleo environments to connect with ecological changes in the species,” Connor Moore said. “Sizes of horses, their diet, teeth shape and skull structure is usually due to environment. I wanted to find the missing links.

“They went extinct in some continents but connected in Europe before humans brought them back over to North American and South America.”

Connor Moore is set to graduate in May. He plans on pursuing evolutionary tracking programs in graduate school.

Rhianna Moore may share a department with her twin but her research aims at the Red Planet. The senior’s poster, “Using Remote Sensing Data and Digital Elevation Models of a Glacial Volcanic Complex as an Analog to Martian Environments,” explored the glacial history of the Pacific Northwest. She compared it to Martian data hewn from the pipeline of NASA satellite imaging of the Red Planet.

The young planetary scientist studied the Three Sisters volcanic peaks in Oregon. The work is another puzzle piece in professor Briony Horgan’s lab and research that is leading up to her work with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission.

“I’m looking at physical traces of glaciers around volcanoes,” explained Rihanna Moore, who plans on pursuing a PhD in Planetary Science after graduation. “These volcanoes are pretty similar to the ones on Mars in terms of composition, which is why it is useful to look at them in terms of weathering and erosion.”

Aidan Moore recalled an interest in paleontology thanks to his older brother, but later in high school, astrophysics piqued his interest and never let go. The sophomore’s recent research project under Physics professor Ephraim Fischbach, “The Effective Range of Neutrino-Based Communication,” explored the logistics and mathematics behind what would be required to send signals to extraterrestrial life. Giving E.T. a call is not an easy thing, at least not right now.

Moore’s project is based on the fact that neutrinos travel better in space than light. Could the subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements be better for reaching out to alien life?

“I want to find the range of such communication with current technology,” Adian explained. “The current estimate is only 54 meters, which is not a lot.”

However, using variables and formulas he created, the young physicist hypothesized that in 100 years, the range will improve immensely.

Purdue has been in the Moore’s blood for generations. Proud pop Ted Moore received his undergrad and graduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics while mom Deirdre Moore is a Purdue Liberal Arts alumna.

“They pushed Purdue and the love of us science on us growing up,” Rihanna Moore said. “Here, we’ve been able to take our love for science and apply it.”

Purdue Science award winners at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

  • Ellie Reinhart, "The Effects of Secondary Microplastics on the Relationship Between a Trematode Parasite, Schistosoma Mansoni, and Its Intermediate and Definitive Hosts," $250
  • Kendal Wang, "Functional Studies of the Central Noradrenergic System in Visual Cortex with Optogenetics," $150
  • Sahej Bains, "Mutational and Biochemical Analysis of Isoprenylcysteine Carboxyl Methyltransferase," $100
  • Kenny Nguyen, "Parkin-Mediated Mitochondrial Turnover in Drosophila Nerve Terminals in Vivo," $100
  • Rebecca Steele, "Characterizing the Effects of the Conditional Deletion of Mist1 in PDAC Progression," $100

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