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A team of undergraduate researchers, Tyler Netherly ’20, Madison Trout ’20, and Elizabeth Bell ’20, worked with their research mentor, Dr. Dennis Buckmaster in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, to publish their data “Combined annual crop yields and daily weather data for Midwest counties 1970-2015” in the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR). Tyler is pursuing majors in mathematics and statistics with a minor in economics. Elizabeth and Madison are both pursuing majors in actuarial science and applied statistics. Their research included using publicly available crop and weather data to find patterns, draw correlations, and make models to predict future yields.
PURR is a data management tool for all Purdue researchers. It is an online, collaborative work space and data-sharing platform to support Purdue researchers and their collaborators. Sandi Caldrone, the PURR Data Repository Outreach Specialist, said, “PURR supports the research data lifecycle from start to finish with resources for data management planning, online private file sharing space for active research, and data publication and archiving for completed research.” All of the datasets that PURR publishes are freely available to the public. PURR is a great resource for students who need to find data to use in their schoolwork, or for those who want to get a feel for what data look like in their field of study.
Students can use their Purdue credentials to log in and start their own research project, but logging in is not required to view published datasets. Caldrone said, “When you start a project, PURR allocates 100GB of private file storage space that you can use to share files with your collaborators, even if they are not at Purdue.” When your research is finished, you can choose which files you would like to publish. Researchers can publish their data to accompany a research poster or conference presentation, to fulfill grant requirements, or because they believe in the value of open data. There are many online data repositories, but the benefit with using PURR is that they have professional staff on campus to help you. According to Caldrone, Netherly, Trout, and Bell are the first undergraduate researchers with a publication in PURR.
Netherly enjoys a challenge, especially one that has not been solved before. “Solving problems involves having to truly understand the underlying research and being able to ask intelligent questions that can help point to a solution.” Bell enjoyed how she had freedom with their research to go in any direction they wanted.
When asked what advice they would give to students interested in pursuing undergraduate research, Netherly said, “Do not do it unless you plan on putting in the work. At Purdue, everyone is busy all the time. Being busy is not an excuse when it comes to working on research; it should be a priority right up with your coursework.” Bell said, “Go for it and email anyone who you would be interested in working with and ensure you communicate well.” Bell encourages those in undergraduate research to use PURR if it is applicable to their project. “Look into what PURR can provide and see if it would be a good resource for your project,” she said. “It is very easy to use, so don't be afraid to use it.”
This work of Netherly, Bell, and Trout was an extension of the work of the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Center at Purdue University (https://oatscenter.org). Drs. Buckmaster and James Krogmeier of Electrical and Computer Engineering launched the OATS Center with support from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research and industry collaborators to bring open source solutions to agriculture with the aim to improve rate of innovation and interoperability in digital agriculture. This published data effort is an example of sharing work so that others can build from that point rather than start “from scratch.”
The Office of Undergraduate Research is available to collaborate with faculty who want to start or enhance undergraduate research opportunities for students and to support students to locate, apply, and succeed at research opportunities. If you are interested in looking for data examples in PURR, sample datasets are available on their website: https://guides.lib.purdue.edu/sampledatasets. You can also contact PURR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSTROWSKI ’20 CREATES LATIN TRANSCRIPTION PROGRAM THROUGH UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Daniel Ostrowski ’20 is a Computer Science major who first got involved in undergraduate research when he was taking Dr. Elizabeth Mercier’s Latin paleography class (LATN 315). Daniel was frustrated trying to decipher the heavily abbreviated words in the medieval pages they were working with and found that using a dictionary only helped if one knew the starting letters of the word. Therefore, he wrote a small program that would filter a list of Latin words based on known letters, allowing for gaps of unknown letters between them. Since the program greatly streamlined that portion of the coursework, Daniel realized that such a tool, substantially rewritten to be easy-to-use, would be helpful for others. It was then that Daniel reached out to Dr. Mercier and suggested this idea as a research project; she eagerly agreed to work with him and provide feedback.
Latin writing in medieval manuscripts is typically heavily abbreviated. Before the text can be translated, it must be transcribed. This is when one must determine what the original Latin words are. The more abbreviations there are the more difficult it can be to transcribe and translate. In Daniel’s program, a person enters the letters they can recognize and then it produces a list of Latin words matching that partial information. When asked what he enjoyed most about undergraduate research Daniel said, “The longer duration of this project compared to, say, one that is for class gives me more time to think of ideas. Some of the most useful features in my program were only thought of months after I first started.” He encourages those interested in pursuing undergraduate research to pick a topic they enjoy. Ostrowski said, “I found it easier to come up with a research idea related to something I enjoyed than to work backwards and find something I enjoyed in an existing research area.”
When asked if he had any advice for those interested in publishing their work, Daniel said to “keep in mind there are other ways to publish than submitting a paper to journals. In my case, since the result of my research is a computer program, ‘publishing’ it consists mainly of posting the source code online and hosting the program on a web server.” A current version of the program Daniel created can be accessed online at https://danielostrowski.net/latin/.
MCGUCKIN ’22 GAINS HANDS ON EXPERIENCE IN DATA VISUALIZATION THROUGH UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Natalie first got started in undergraduate research when Dr. Ward emailed her asking if she would be interested in working on this complex project with his team. “Conducting undergraduate research has been one of the best decisions that I have made while being here at Purdue University. I have learned more about my major and what I would like to do with it when I finish my undergraduate studies. Undergraduate research has given me hands-on experience working on a project with a team of researchers,” McGuckin says. “My research has inspired me with what I want to do with my major. When I do work on my project, I am excited to code and work on this project being surrounded by a supportive and brilliant research team.“
Participating in undergraduate research has provided Natalie with the opportunity to learn different skills and how to apply them to real-life questions. “I love being able to learn things within and outside of my major. Through research, I am working hands-on with D3.js which gives me experience in creating visualizations. I am also learning Data Science and Mathematical Modeling through my research. I have found aspects of Data Science and Mathematical Modeling that I enjoy and I would hope to turn them into a career someday.“
ZHAN ‘19 FINDS A CAREER PATH THROUGH UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Jiada Zhan ’19 recently completed his undergraduate degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and, during his time at Purdue, he participated in undergraduate research as a part of his Nutrition Science Honors Program. Jiada and his research mentor, Dr. Nana Gletsu-Miller, worked on magnesium supplement research. This involved giving two magnesium supplements to human subjects and analyzing their responses to these supplements. They have used 4 different methods to measure participants’ magnesium level: serum, urine, red blood cell, and whole-blood ionized magnesium. They strive for comparing different magnesium measurement methods to see which one is the most accurate and consistent. Jiada is currently finishing this research and would like to pursue a career in nutrition research. He will complete a master’s degree in Public Health Nutrition and alongside a dietetic internship at Case Western Reserve University. After completing these experiences, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Nutrition Science.
Jiada believes that his experience in undergraduate research helped him to be more organized. “Doing research and taking senior courses together are very stressful because I had to read many scientific articles to develop my thoughts about my research while maintaining my academic performance. Time was limited, so it was necessary to know what the next step is in order to finish both tasks in a timely manner. After this experience, I feel more confident to manage my graduate study in the future.” Jiada advises anyone interested in undergraduate research to be active and flexible. “You need to be active to think which research topic you would like to focus on and how you can do better than previous people did. It will make you feel excited about your research since you know you are doing something meaningful in the chosen research area. In addition, you have to be flexible about your research process, because even if you believe you plan everything well, you can still make some mistakes. All you can do is to adjust your strategy to adapt.”
Levin '19 GAINS VALUABLE CONNECTIONS AND PREPARATION FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL THROUGH Undergraduate RESEARCH
Erik Levin ’19 is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Professional Flight Technology and a master’s degree in Aviation Technology and Management. Erik will graduate with his undergraduate degree in December 2019 and with his master’s degree in December 2020. Erik first became involved in undergraduate research in May 2018 when his mentors Drs. Flavio Mendonca and Julius Keller invited him to participate in a research study on fatigue in collegiate aviation. The purpose of their study was to investigate collegiate pilots’ perceptions of lifestyle and mitigation strategies related to fatigue. A leading concern was that half of those sampled did not consider themselves to engage in fully adequate bodily exercise, nutritional habits, and time management. These areas, however, are prime considerations when working towards healthy sleep patterns.
Erik said, “Receiving the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Mendonca and Dr. Keller was a great honor to me, because of the success both had achieved in previous research projects. Additionally, the insights regarding fatigue in flight training I gained from this project are valuable to me, because I plan to operate a corporate flight training center by 2034.” Erik’s classmate, Aaron Teo, also contributed to their research project by researching the causes and effects of fatigue.
Erik found that by participating in undergraduate research he has become accustomed to drafting academic papers and using APA format. Erik said that “in preparation for the master’s degree, research helped me to anticipate what would lie ahead when I begin graduate studies. Also, participating in research has given me a view on my area of study from a different perspective and allowed me to meet professional members of the aviation community I might not have met otherwise.”
Fauber '22 ENCOURAGES OTHER Undergraduate Researchers TO SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE FOR COLLECTIVE GROWTH
Daphne Fauber ’22 is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Engineering Technology Teacher Education and Curriculum & Instruction with minors in Design & Innovation, Biology, and Global Studies. Daphne had the unique opportunity to begin undergraduate research in the summer leading up to her freshman year. She took Dr. Ware’s summer honors Intro to Research course and learned what it means to be a student researcher. The final project for this course involved writing a research proposal which she submitted to the OUR Scholars program after finding her current research mentor, Dr. Hsin-Yi Weng in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Daphne and Dr. Weng’s research correlated the effects of urbanization on rates of Lyme disease in the United States. Lyme disease is often associated with rural areas, however, urbanization and the presence of ecotones has been deemed a potential risk factor for Lyme disease. The objective of their study was to examine the expansion of city boundaries and its relation to rates of Lyme disease in the United States. Their current findings partially support their hypothesis that expanding city boundaries are linked to higher rates of Lyme disease in those areas, however, the trends are not consistent throughout the years.
As an education major, Daphne values the ability to learn. “As teacher education students, we are taught about the importance of having a lifelong learner's attitude, and I think research is an embodiment of that attitude,” said Fauber. She also encourages undergraduate researchers to be involved and to share their knowledge. “Generating new knowledge means nothing if it is not being shared with others. I may be biased with my background in education, but I think being able to inspire others to be passionate about your subject area by showing them the new information you have created is the most important part of research. Apply for positions that seem like long shots. Apply to present at conferences. Submit manuscripts to be published. Be proud of what you have done and do not be afraid to seek out opportunities to share your work with others.” Daphne accomplished this feat when she was selected to present her work at the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Posters on the Hill symposium held in Washington, DC. As an OUR Scholar, Daphne is highlighted as a top undergraduate researcher at Purdue.
Undergraduate Shares How to Prepare for a Research Conference
Abigail Gentry ’20 is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Materials Engineering with a minor in Women Studies. She recently attended the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in Toronto, Canada with her research advisor Dr. Kerrie Douglas. Abigail presented a research poster on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) learners’ and their likes and dislikes. Her research looked at how learners have different expectations depending on the course subject. Abigail suggests, when attending a conference, you should do some pre-planning like knowing where your hotel is in relationship to the conference, planning your outfits if the conference is more than one day, and to always be overdressed rather than underdressed. She also suggests bringing business cards, a notebook, and a plan on what sessions you would like to attend. In addition, Abigail also suggests asking yourself what you want to get out of the conference and reflecting afterward on your experience.
While at this conference, Abigail attended a workshop for undergraduates pursuing upper-level degrees in education. She experienced a few paper sessions that impressed her. One of Abigail’s favorite sessions was on campus diversity and STEM education. This session focused on how campus culture affects how underrepresented students feel and grow during their education. She learned about the lack of inclusion of students with disabilities pursuing STEM educations and how Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have different campus culture around supporting their students.
Abigail appreciated these discussions since they focus on improving the learning experience for those who were not considered during the creation of higher education institutions. “Attending these sessions have pushed me closer towards understanding how I want to help improve higher education for underrepresented minorities.”
When asked about her current plans after graduation Abigail said, “I want to pursue a PhD in Engineering Education. I am passionate about this program since it allows me to help give back to the engineering programs that I was a part of, and I can further help improve those programs. I want to be involved in the push to make engineering more friendly for underrepresented minorities.”
Recent Purdue Undergraduate Finds Passion through Research
Erin Paul ’19 recently completed her undergraduate degree in genetics. During her time at Purdue University, Erin conducted research in Dr. Stephen Konieczny’s pancreatic cancer lab where her research focused on investigating the roles of two proteins that are overexpressed in pancreatic cancer.
Erin will be starting veterinary school at Purdue in the fall and said that she “always knew I liked the science side of medicine but wasn't sure how to factor that into a career where most people become general practitioners. By doing undergraduate research, I discovered my passion for research and was exposed to different career paths that will allow me to combine research and medicine in my future career.”
Erin would like to complete a residency and work in clinical oncology research. When asked what advice she would give to Purdue undergraduate researchers Erin said, “It can be easy to get discouraged when starting research, because you probably are thrown into completely new science and ways of thinking. Especially when experiments and results don't go your way, which will happen, it is important to maintain a positive perspective: science is the best teacher of failure.”
Sarah Rodenbeck '19 Awarded First Place by College of Science
During the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference, Sarah Rodenbeck ’19 was awarded first place by the College of Science for her oral research presentation.
Rodenbeck’s research focuses on the field of digital ethics and studies how advancing technological capabilities are balanced against the ethical issues that they pose. Specifically, her current research is about data use and privacy in the public sector.
“I first became interested in digital ethics after watching a TED talk by Joy Buolamwini,” says Rodenbeck. "This was a casual interest until I recognized the gap in literature pertaining to the public sector.”
With the help of her research mentor, Dr. Lindsay Weinberg, Rodenbeck developed a series of policy recommendations that allow emerging artificial intelligence technologies to benefit society while also minimizing the risks associated with these technologies. Her recommendations address concerns such as privacy, consent, and algorithmic discrimination.
Through participating in undergraduate research, Rodenbeck has discovered her interest in attending graduate school.
“Undergraduate research has allowed me to explore digital ethics at a much deeper level,” says Rodenbeck. “This has impacted my career goals, and I now plan to go to graduate school and eventually transition into working in public policy focused on technology issues.”
Rachel Small '21: Is Amelia Earhart a Feminist?
Rachel Small ’21, an undergraduate researcher in the College of Liberal Arts, has always had a passion for history, specifically for Amelia Earhart. Pursuing her passion, Small spent the previous calendar year studying Earhart and digging through the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections to discover if she was truly a feminist.
“While searching for primary sources that were supportive of Amelia’s feminist activism, I discovered some contradictions,” says Small. “This is where my independent research began.”
Along with performing independent research, Small worked with Jessica Perkins ’21, an undergraduate student in the College of Health and Human Sciences, to tackle the Amelia Earhart collection. Small and Perkins were mentored by Sammie Morris, the University Archivist, and Dr. Kendall Roark, Assistant Professor, from Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies. Their research worked to help Dr. Amy Kleppner, Earhart’s niece, write a feminism-focused book about the aviation icon.
Through performing undergraduate research, Small has grown to understand the role that perspective can play and has become more aware of possible biases that may be present. She has also realized that research is something that she may be interested in pursuing further.
“Presenting at the research conference was a good way of learning how to relay all of the information that I’ve collected in my head to others,” says Small. “Working in the Archives helped me see that I could do this for a career, which is very reassuring.”
Edwards '21 Presents Alternative Energy Research
Ethan Edwards ’21, a current undergraduate student studying civil engineering with an environmental focus, presented his research at the 2019 Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference. Throughout the previous year, Edwards has worked to discover how to catalyze change in the energy field.
“Catalysts are used in around 90% of chemical processes on a daily basis,” says Edwards. “My research is focused on creating a viable catalyst that can take excess ethane and propane from shale gas and transform them into usable transportation fuels.”
Edwards chose to pursue alternative energy research because he is interested in understanding how engineers can continue to sustainably support a growing population. Through conducting his research, Edwards has been able to confirm his interest in attending graduate school, as well as sharpen his writing skills.
He completed his research with the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Miller, a professor of chemical engineering, and Nicole LiBretto, a current graduate student. Their work contributed to the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources program here at Purdue.
“While starting undergraduate research was initially intimidating, sticking with it and understanding the concepts has given me the confidence to pursue future challenging projects,” says Edwards. “Undergraduate research also allows you to gain a deeper understanding of concepts that may only be briefly discussed in class.”
The conference will showcase the research of over 700 undergraduate students representing all undergraduate colleges and schools. The conference is free and open to the public with refreshments available throughout the days for attendees and participants. The schedule of oral presenters and posters can be found on the conference website.
OUR Director Amy Childress added that along with the regular and department credits students may want to earn over the summer, Purdue is offering two fully online classes, GS 29501 and GS 39501, Understanding Your Undergraduate Research Experience, designed for students currently conducting research. A third class, GS 19501, is for students interested in research.
“These new GS courses prepare students to strengthen their research and self-reflection skills in order to apply these abilities to broader contexts," Childress said. Students who combine summer coursework with a research project gain
Engineering Student Spotlight: Tony Hoch
Tony Hoch ’19 is a current undergraduate student majoring in biological engineering with a concentration in pharmaceutical processing. During 2017 and 2018, he performed research on the influence of surface composition on powder flowability of lactose-based materials.
“Powders are used in many industries across the world, including pharmaceuticals, plastics, and chemicals,” says Hoch. “The goal of my research was to help make powders less sticky so that they could flow better and not cause issues in machines used by these industries.”
Hoch first got involved with undergraduate research when he responded to an email chain sent out by his research professor, Dr. Teresa Carvajal. Dr. Carvajal currently serves as a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue and is a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Throughout his research experience, Hoch worked with multiple doctorate and postdoctoral fellows to learn the theory behind the flowability of powders. His involvement with undergraduate research allowed Tony to gain many valuable skills and experiences that he used to his advantage when applying for jobs. He was recently accepted into a full-time rotational program called the Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) Program within Catalent Pharma Solutions. This Program is an intensive, two-year opportunity that offers on-the-job experiences in operations and builds leadership skills.
“Participating in undergraduate research allowed me to open my mind up to possibilities beyond school,” says Tony. “Being able to take things into my own hands and feel the direct impact of my efforts made research an amazing opportunity that I am thankful to have had a chance to participate in.”
In celebration of its 150th year, Purdue University has chosen to feature a specific college each month. For the month of February, the College of Engineering is being highlighted. The OUR is also choosing to celebrate and put a spotlight on our undergraduate researchers from the College of Engineering. Abigail Hancock ’20 is the first of these researchers.
Hancock is a current undergraduate student majoring in industrial engineering and minoring in psychology. During 2018, she conducted research on how to educate people on the dangers of high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure is a very abstract concept,” Hancock says. “To educate people, I created an interactive device that simulates the difference in pressures of a heart suffering from high blood pressure and a healthy heart.”
Working with Denny Yu, an assistant professor of industrial engineering, and Kim Plake and Judy Chen from the College of Pharmacy, Hancock took the interactive device to health fairs and asked individuals to participate in her study. Using surveys, she discovered that the device helped people better understand the effects of high blood pressure. Her research abstract was later accepted into the American Pharmacists Association Exposition, and the device is now being used at the Jane Pauley Clinic in Indianapolis during high blood pressure classes to help individuals understand what is happening to their bodies.
“1 in 3 Americans suffer from high blood pressure,” says Hancock. “Giving people a tangible way to understand this idea was a very fulfilling experience.”
Hancock first started this research as a high school science fair project. When she came to college, she wanted to continue and expand the project with the help of Purdue faculty. Through participating in undergraduate research, Hancock gained on-campus experience and explored different areas within her major. She was also able to make faculty connections and learn about the benefits of graduate school.
Office of Undergraduate Research Provides Opportunities for Students, Faculty, Staff to Learn and Communicate
Purdue Seeks Applications for Attending AAAS Advocacy Workshop
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is hosting a science advocacy workshop in Washington, DC from March 24-27, 2019 called "Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering". Purdue can send up to four students with registration and travel costs covered by the University for upper-class undergraduate students and graduate students in science, math, and engineering disciplines (biological, physical, or earth sciences; computation sciences and mathematics; engineering; medical and health sciences; and social and behavioral sciences).
The University will cover the $175 registration fee for selected students. The student's college and/or program would cover the travel and living costs associated with the trip. Currently, the Colleges of Engineering, Health & Human Sciences, and Science and Purdue Polytechnic Institute have agreed to cover these costs for their students, if selected. Additional colleges will be added to this list as they agree. In order to select the students who will represent Purdue, we ask that you please complete this application by Thursday, January 31,
Travel Grant Recipient Presents Research in Hong Kong, Meets Fellow Fulbright Scholar
Chelsea Maupin ’18, a 2018 travel grant recipient and recent graduate from the College of Agriculture at Purdue, attended the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) Conference in Hong Kong.
While in Hong Kong, Maupin presented research that looks at the interaction between the ISQOLS and the Community Development Society (CDS) and studies the benefits of increased collaboration between the two. She included pieces of her senior research project, which focuses on the overlaps of community development and the individual well-being within community gardens, in her presentation.
“Traveling to the conference felt like a dream,” said Maupin. “I’d traveled to Hong Kong once before on a study abroad trip, and I’m grateful that I had the chance to visit again thanks to the Purdue Office of Undergraduate Research.”
Before visiting Hong Kong, Maupin went to a pre-conference trip in Manila, Philippines. While there, she was given a tour of Social Weather Stations (SWS), a social research institution that conducts public-opinion polling and surveys about quality of life.
“The SWS group made us feel at home, and I even met a Fulbright
Throughout her time spent abroad, Maupin was provided with the opportunity to explore new locations and cities. She was also exposed to many of the different types of research projects that are taking place around the world. Her travels served as a reminder that there is more than just one way to live and gave her a new perspective on her work and studies.
"The niece of former Purdue faculty member Amelia Earhart, with the help of undergraduate research, is writing a feminism-focused book about the aviation icon for young adults."
Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, will host the Biennial Conference, Executive Board Meeting, and Annual Business Meeting of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) in late June-early July 2020. At these annual events, approximately 600 faculty and academic professionals interested in the improvement, assessment, management, and promotion of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities share ideas, strategies, and best practices as well as chart the future of CUR.
Said CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth Ambos, “Purdue University will provide an outstanding host for CUR’s 2020 Biennial Conference and governance meetings. With its deep commitment to enhancing and expanding undergraduate research, coupled with great access to transportation centers, and West Lafayette’s welcoming community and amenities, the 2020 meetings will be of great value to faculty, staff, and student leaders within undergraduate research theory and practice.”
Purdue Fall Undergraduate Research Expo now accepting oral presentation and poster abstract submissions
Nikolai ’19 Attends Research Conference in Japan
L.R. Nikolai ’19, a current undergraduate student in the College of Liberal Arts, recently attended an annual conference for sign language researchers in Osaka, Japan seen here with her research mentor Dr. Ronnie Wilbur at the Toji Pagoda.
Nikolai’s research primarily focuses on the structure of American Sign Language. She is currently studying non-manual markers (grammatical facial expressions), as well as verb telicity, which concerns how verbs convey actions that do or do not have natural
“My poster discusses a non-manual marker called ‘flat chin’, which displays significant grammatical function but has never before been studied in ASL,” said Nikolai.
By traveling to Japan, Nikolai was able to learn a lot about the country’s food, culture, and languages. She has traveled to almost a dozen countries while in college, and has made hundreds of friends and learned things that she never would have been able to inside of Indiana. The conference also provided Nikolai with the opportunity to meet other researchers in her field.
“My favorite part was getting to learn a little bit of Japanese Sign Language,” said Nikolai. “Many people believe that sign languages are universal or that they’re based on a spoken language, but that couldn’t be more wrong. They are unique and incredibly complex languages that deserve more scientific study.”
Office of Undergraduate Research Now Part of University Libraries; Innovative Partnership Enhances Resources for Undergraduates' Research Needs
Casey Haney ‘18, a current graduate student in the engineering education program at Purdue, earned her undergraduate degree in engineering-technology teacher education. She began performing undergraduate research during her junior year. Working for the DeBoer Lab, Haney studied a Backyard Brains kit that was used in high schools to teach principles of neuroscience using cockroaches and worms. Her work focused on determining whether or not the lab kits made it easier for students to understand complex subjects.
“We have seen that the lab kits improve self-efficacy and basically help students feel more like scientists,” said Haney.
Haney initially decided to take advantage of this research opportunity because it sounded interesting and would be a nice way for her to earn some extra money for expenses.
“To be honest, I didn’t think that it would go much further than that,” said Haney. “I never expected to pursue a doctoral degree before starting my research. Go all in and try something new that sounds interesting to you. It can lead to amazing things.”
After discovering her passion for research, Haney switched her major so that it better aligned with her research interests. She is now the first in her family to pursue a doctoral degree and the first in her immediate family to receive a bachelor’s degree.
“Undergraduate research gave me a safe place to grow my research skills, nurture my curiosity, and test if it was something that I wanted to do,” said Haney. “When I decided to apply to graduate school, I had already presented two conference papers, been an author on a journal paper, and knew how to talk about my research.”
Zhu '18 Awarded Top Abstract in Life Sciences
During the 2018 Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference, Gaotian Zhu’s research poster was selected by Purdue Libraries as the top abstract in life sciences.
Zhu ’18 recently graduated from the College of Agriculture at Purdue. His research focuses on discovering the benefits of applying biostimulants to plants that are growing in low nutritious conditions. He chose to look at the effects of biostimulants on lettuce and tomato, two common vegetable varieties.”
“To me, the most interesting part of the research process was figuring out the design,” Zhu said. “I had to arrange the variables in such a way that made the whole experiment both logical and accurate.”
The Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference allowed Zhu to share his interest and passion for research with other students. It also provided him with the opportunity to learn about the research interests of his peers, as well as to make friends with other undergraduate researchers.
Zhu’s undergraduate research experience persuaded him to pursue a master’s degree at Purdue in the same area of study.
“When students participate in research, they are able to gain skills that they can’t get from only books,” said Zhu. “Research helped me discover my interest in horticulture and gave me the idea to attend graduate school.”
Chau ‘19 Awarded First Place by Honors College
Allison Chau ’19, an undergraduate student in the College of Engineering, was awarded first place by the Purdue University Honors College during the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference for her oral research presentation.
Chau is a member of the Davis Research Group at Purdue. Run by Dr. Chelsea Davis, an assistant professor of materials engineering, this group focuses on polymer interfacial mechanics and developing novel testing techniques. Chau worked with Dr. Davis and Hyeyoung Son, a Purdue graduate student, to develop a technique that quantitatively measures the adhesion between rigid polymer thin films and compliant substrates.
“Polymer thin films have a wide range of applications and are used in products such as contact lenses, wearable sensors, and flexible electronics,” said Chau. “There is a critical need for a simple adhesion measurement technique, and this new method meets that need.”
The Undergraduate Research Conference provided Chau with the opportunity to present her research in a professional setting for the first time. The experience made her more confident in her communication skills and in her ability to explain her research in an understandable way.
“My favorite part about research is the novelty of it,” said Chau. “Unlike my lab classes where everything is laid out with explicit instructions, research is unknown. Purdue makes it so easy for undergraduates to get involved in research, and that opportunity shouldn’t be wasted.”
Purdy ’18 Awarded First Place by College of Pharmacy
Stephen Purdy ’18 was awarded first place at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference by the Purdue College of Pharmacy for his research poster.
Purdy is a recent graduate from the College of Pharmacy. His research focuses on targeted therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer. He worked with Dr. Michael Wendt, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, and Saeed Akhand, a Purdue graduate student, to understand how these cancers develop resistance to certain therapies and how to treat these patients.
“Therapies such as the drug, Trastuzumab Emtansine (T-DM1), have been successful in treating patients with HER2-positive breast cancer,” said Purdy. “However, a significant population of these patients
Through participating in the Undergraduate Research Conference, Purdy was able to practice his speaking skills and enjoy presenting his research in a stress-free environment. It allowed him to share his work with people outside of his lab, which is something that he doesn’t get to do very often.
“Classwork can teach you science, but working in a lab teaches you how to DO science,” said Purdy. “Doing undergraduate research made me realize that I wanted to make a career out of it. It’s the reason that I am going to graduate school.”
Smith ’19 Awarded First Place by College of Science
Hannah Smith ’19, an undergraduate student studying biology in the College of Science, was awarded first place by the College of Science during the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference for her research poster.
Smith’s research, titled “Amphibian Physiology,” focuses on studying per- and
“PFAs are an emerging contaminant of concern due to potential effects on the health of humans and wildlife,” said Smith. “Our lab has previously demonstrated that PFAs can reduce growth and delay development of larval amphibians.”
Through participating in undergraduate research, Smith has learned to become a more independent and well-rounded individual. The trials and errors of research have taught her patience, creative thinking, and perseverance. “Research has taught me to not be afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and to always ask questions,” said Smith. “Whether you decide to do research for just a semester or for all four years of undergrad, you will learn valuable tools that can assist you in many different career paths.”
The OUR Moves to Hicks Undergraduate Library
The Office of Undergraduate Research moved to the Hicks Undergraduate Library. This move will place us closer to student spaces to assist in locating, applying, and succeeding at undergraduate research opportunities. Associate Director JJ Sadler said, "We are excited about what this new space will mean for accessibility to students and the visibility of the OUR." The OUR asks for some patience regarding replies to emails and phone calls until the transition between Duhme and Hicks is complete and they are able to get settled.
Griggs Serves as an OUR Ambassador
Brittany Griggs ’21, an undergraduate student in the College of Pharmacy, currently serves as one of the student ambassadors for the Office of Undergraduate Research.
During her sophomore year, Griggs participated in a statistics learning community. Throughout her experience, she was provided with the opportunity to conduct her own research and travel to research conferences across the nation. These opportunities allowed Griggs to grow and learn as a student and a researcher, and she desired to share this growth with other students in hopes that they could have a similar experience. It was this desire that led her to become an OUR student ambassador.
Griggs has participated in three research labs at Purdue. Last year, she worked with Mark Cushman, Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, in the Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department in the College of Pharmacy. Together, they worked to create potential drug scaffolds and molecules targeting various pathways.
“My favorite part was the opportunity to work with Dr. Cushman,” said Griggs. “They say that the research mentor can make all of the difference in undergraduate research, and I am extremely grateful for the time and knowledge that he has given me.”
Griggs has learned and experienced the many benefits and opportunities that students who conduct undergraduate research are provided with. “There are so many types of labs and so much research going on at Purdue that there is almost definitely a lab for everyone,” said Griggs. “Our college years are where we grow, learn, and try new things. Undergraduate research is a great experience to try for a
Kanishka '18 Awarded First Place by Purdue Polytechnic Institute
During the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference, Misra Kanishka’s research poster was awarded first place by the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
Kanishka ’18 recently graduated from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute with a degree in aeronautical engineering technology. His research focused on building a statistical model that uses Internet conversations involving sexual predators to predict the likelihood of the predator physically meeting the victim. Kanishka’s hope is that his research can be used as a mechanism to prioritize certain cases for law enforcement and save the lives of young, naïve teenagers.
Julia Rayz, an associate professor in the Polytechnic Institute, served as Kanishka’s research mentor throughout the year. Kanishka and Dr. Rayz worked together to collect data from a repository of online chats involving a sexual predator and a decoy, an adult pretending to be a
“Undergraduate research has given me a taste of what graduate school could be like,” said Kanishka. “Performing research during your undergraduate career gives students the opportunity to dive deep into something that they’re interested in. It’s an experience that no class can provide.”
While participating in the Undergraduate Research Conference, Kanishka was given the opportunity to present his own research and interact with and learn from several other undergraduate researchers. “It was one of the most defining moments of my senior year,” said Kanishka.
Wong Serves as an OUR Ambassador
Preston Wong ’21, an undergraduate student in the College of Pharmacy, currently serves as one of the student ambassadors for the Office of Undergraduate Research. Wong has had great experiences as an undergraduate researcher, and his desire to share those experiences is why he first became interested in working with the OUR.
“I wanted to share the many opportunities and benefits that undergraduate research can provide with other students,” said Wong. “Being able to perform research as an undergraduate and produce deliverables, whether that be a paper or prototype, looks great to future employers and is an extremely valuable skill to have.”
Wong is currently working on research that focuses on demonstrating how a medical device startup, Phlebotics Inc., can be used to monitor drug concentrations in blood. The startup was founded by Peter Kissinger, a professor in the Department of Chemistry. Wong’s responsibilities include compiling data from various databases and using that data to demonstrate the benefits of the startup’s technology compared to traditional methods.
Throughout his research experience, Wong has developed strong relationships and networked with many faculty members and professionals in his area of interest. “My favorite part of my research experience is the relationship that I have with Dr. Kissinger,” said Wong. “His mentorship has been invaluable, and I consider him to be one of my good friends. I am very thankful for everything that he has done for me, and I would never have been able to meet him if I hadn’t reached out to ask him about his work.”
Bishop's Archival Research Poster Awarded First Place
During the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference, Lillian Bishop’s archival research poster was awarded first place by Purdue University Archives and Special Collections.
Bishop ’19 is a current undergraduate student in the College of Engineering. Her research focuses on exposing the history and origin of Indiana’s state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” by Paul Dresser. Through utilizing Purdue’s library system and other local news sources, Bishop was able to uncover the importance of the state song’s nostalgia and the impact that it has on the perception of the Wabash River today. Lisa Welp-Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), served as Bishop’s research mentor throughout the year.
“I am an industrial engineering major, which means that I don’t usually get the opportunity to perform historical research,” said Bishop. “I love history and learning the context of why things are the way they are, so conducting this research was a welcome change from my normal class work.”
While participating in the Undergraduate Research Conference, Bishop was able to strengthen her communication skills and learn how to present to different audiences. Conducting undergraduate research has helped her grow as a student and a professional, and has also exposed her to new ideas and ways of problem-solving.
“If you talked to me three years ago and told me that I would be presenting research about the state song of Indiana as part of my engineering education, I would have laughed,” said Bishop. “However, my time at Purdue has taught me to appreciate the importance of multidisciplinary learning. I would challenge students to take the leap and explore research in an area that isn’t their primary focus.”
Purdue Students Attend AAAS Workshop in D.C.
Four Purdue students traveled in late March 2018 to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 2018 Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop.
Elizabeth Reinhart (left), Emma Brown, and Caleb Hettinger, undergraduate students from the College of Science, and Clayton Nevins (right), a graduate student in the College of Agriculture, attended the three-and-a-half day workshop hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The workshop was an entry-level program that introduced upper-class undergraduates and graduate students to the role that science plays in the federal policy-making process.
“The workshop was a fantastic introduction to science policy,” said Reinhart. “It illuminated many intersections, including how different agencies interact with administration, science lobbying, and how congressional chairs are picked.”
While participating in the workshop, students were provided with the opportunity to engage in interactive seminars about policy-making and communication and conduct meetings with their elected Members of Congress.
“We learned a great deal about science advocacy and how that looks within our government,” said Hettinger. “We were also able to meet Senator Joe Donnelly and hear from several different Members of Congress, including Representative Bill Foster of Illinois and former Representative Rush Holt Jr. of New Jersey.”
The workshop also aimed to provide its participants with the tools to become a voice for research throughout their careers.
“I learned how I can use my knowledge of research, science, and communication to make a difference in research funding,” said Hettinger. “The conference was also great for making connections with other individuals who are interested in and passionate about science advocacy.”
“Learning through in-depth seminars better prepared me to de-fog the bridge between science and policy,” said Reinhart. “As someone who is looking to work on diseases in developing countries, my future relies on government funding, scientific laws, and agencies within the executive branch. All in all, the workshop gave me the resources to become a better civil servant and better prepared me for my future.”
The Office of Undergraduate Research, College of Science’s Learning Beyond the Classroom Certificate Program, Parent & Family Advisory Board, and the Provost Office supported the students’ registration, travels, and housing to attend the event.
Travel Grant Recipient Presents at IEEE Conference
Caleb Geissler ’19, a 2018 travel grant recipient, presented his research June 2-5 at the 2018 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power Modulator and High Voltage Conference in Jackson, Wyoming.
Caleb’s research focuses on using nanosecond and microsecond pulsed electric fields to increase lipid extraction from algae. This extraction is then converted into biodiesel fuel. Allen Garner and John Morgan, professors in Purdue’s College of Engineering, worked to guide Caleb while he conducted his research. Students Mary Mulligan and Zane Zmola from Purdue’s College of Engineering also helped Caleb perform research in the lab.
During his time in Wyoming, Caleb was able to present his research to experts in his field of interest and receive feedback and advice from them. “Through attending the conference, I was able to learn about cutting edge research going on all around the world,” said Caleb.
Darr Awarded Top Abstract in Mathematical and Computational Sciences
During the 2018 Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference, Adam Darr’s research was selected by Purdue Libraries as the top abstract in mathematical and computational sciences.
Adam ’18, left, recently graduated from the College of Engineering at Purdue. His research, titled “Variational Methods Applied to Crossed Field Devices,” works to predict how an electron will behave under the influence of electric and magnetic fields. This prediction is done
While participating in the Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference, Adam greatly enjoyed his experience. It gave him an opportunity to present his discovery after months of searching and many false leads and dead ends.
“The conference held a spirit of camaraderie between all of us researchers at the end of a long, productive semester,” he said. “The chance to compete also added an edge of tension and excitement.”
Undergraduate research has allowed Adam to build a professional background, learn unique skills, personally interact with faculty and staff, and get more involved on Purdue’s campus.
“The first advice that I give new students is to get out there and do some research,” he said. “I have gained confidence beyond measure during my time with undergraduate research, and have learned many valuable lessons, including how to take setbacks gracefully.”
Travel Grant Recipient Presents Research in Germany
Daniele Celano '18, a 2018 travel grant recipient and a recent graduate from Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts, presented her research April 12-15 at an international conference in Bielefeld, Germany entitled "Buccaneers, Corsairs, Pirates and Privateers: Connecting the Early Modern Seas."
Over the course of a year, Daniele worked as a research assistant for Dr. Stacy Holden, an associate professor from Purdue’s history department. They worked together to research the effects of famine and internal environmental constraints on North African corsair activity in the late 18th century.
Daniele, Dr. Holden, and Dr. Holden’s teaching assistant, Lama El Sharif, attended the international conference in Germany to present their research paper on early modern piracy. Through her experience and travel, Daniele was able to gain invaluable practice and experience in conducting productive primary source research. “I met so many distinguished professors from across the globe that truly broadened my horizons and taught me different ways to approach one topic,” she said. “The opportunity to present at an international conference was extremely encouraging and helpful to my career in academia, as I will begin a history doctorate program at the University of Virginia in the fall.”
Travel Grant Recipient Presents Research at NKF Spring Clinical Meeting
Sang-A Yun '18, travel grant recipient and recent graduate from the Purdue College of Pharmacy, presented her research on April 10-14 at the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meeting in Austin, Texas.
Sang-A’s research focuses on comparing the effect of ergocalciferol, Vitamin D2, to cholecalciferol, Vitamin D3, on patients with chronic kidney disease. While working on her research, she received assistance from Dr. Al-Makki, a nephrologist at IU Health Arnett, as well as Dr. Overholser and Dr. Shepler, professors from the College of Pharmacy.
The National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meeting is a conference that works to improve clinical practice and patient outcomes through education and information. “It was incredibly humbling to be the first Purdue pharmacy student to present a poster at this conference,” said Sang-A. Throughout her experience, she was able to network with multiple healthcare professionals who share her passion for improving the lives of patients with kidney disease.
Two Travel Grant Recipients Present at the United Nations Headquarters
Eight undergraduate researchers were recently awarded travel grants from the Purdue Office of Undergraduate Research. Researchers Audrey Caprio '18, right, a nursing student, and Paige LeMaster '20, a food science student, presented on April 20 at the Students Seeking Solutions: SDG 6 Challenge Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. You can see their presentation on the UN website.
Audrey and Paige attended the conference to present the team’s framework for addressing the global water crisis. Along the way, they were able to learn from industry leaders, academic professionals in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), and United Nations officials. They were also able to connect with other students from around the country that are involved in similar work. “This experience was one of the highlights of our undergraduate careers,” said Audrey. “It was made possible through the travel grant from the Purdue Office of Undergraduate Research, as well as through generous donations from Purdue’s Food Science and Nursing departments." The students are part of an interdisciplinary, service-learning project at Purdue that focuses on providing access to clean water in the Dominican Republic. Titled “Water Supply in Developing Countries,” this project involves Purdue students from Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Biology, Nursing, Food Science, Social Sciences, and Technology.
2018 Travel Grant Recipient Travels to ITEEA Conference
Eight undergraduate researchers were recently awarded travel grants from the Purdue Office of Undergraduate Research. One of those researchers, Marlee DeSplinter ’20, recently traveled to the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) National Conference in Atlanta with her professor, Dr. Scott Bartholomew from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
While in Atlanta, Marlee presented her research project, titled “Tumblewigs in Tanzania.” Her research was centered around universal STEM education, and the goal of the project was to determine if STEM concepts designed in the United States are applicable in other countries. Marlee conducted her research last summer during a study abroad trip to Tanzania.
This was the first time that Marlee had completed a research project, and her involvement allowed her to grow as both a student and a professional. “This experience taught me how to write professionally and use my surroundings to help me come to certain conclusions,” said Marlee. “Additionally, I was able to develop my public speaking and explanation skills through presenting.”
Undergraduate Researchers Awarded Travel Grants to Present Research at Conferences
Eight undergraduate researchers received travel grants to attend and present their research. Students' travel extended to international conferences across the globe. Audrey Caprio '18 (College of Human and Health Sciences) and Paige LeMaster '20 (College of Agriculture) were awarded funds to travel to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for the Students Seeking Solutions Conference. Daniele Celano '18 (College of Liberal Arts) was awarded funds to travel to the Buccaneers, Corsairs, Pirates, and Privateers: Connecting the Early Modern Seas Conference in Bielefeld, Germany. Adam Darr '18 and Mary Mulligan '18 (College of Engineering) were awarded funds to travel to Denver, Colorado for the IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science. Marlee DeSplinter '20 (Purdue Polytechnic Institute) was awarded funds to travel to the ITEEA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Caleb Geissler '19 (College of Engineering) was awarded funds to travel to Jackson, Wyoming for the IEEE International Power Modulator and High Voltage Conference. Chelsea Maupin '19 (College of Agriculture) was awarded funds to travel to Hong Kong, China for the ISQOLS Conference. Sang-A Yun '18 (College of Pharmacy) was awarded funds to travel to the National Kidney Foundation Spring Clinical Meeting in Austin, Texas. Funding for these travel grants was supported by the Purdue Parent and Family Advisory Board. Applications are currently being accepted for Fall 2018 travel grants.
Top Undergraduate Researchers Recognized at 2018 Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference
The 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference saw a record number of participants with 560 students presenting 360 posters and the addition of oral presentations with 48 students delivering 29 oral presentations. Following the April 10 celebration of student scholarship, 108 undergraduate researchers received awards with a combined value of $10,400. First place winners and their categories were: Allison Chau (Top Oral Presentation), Gabrielle Williams (Agriculture), Javieradrian Ruiz (Engineering),
Purdue Today: Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference Accepting Abstracts for Oral Presentation and Posters
Students interested in presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference on April 10,
Office of Undergraduate Research to Host First Undergraduate Research Week
April 3 - 10, 2018 will be Undergraduate Research Week at Purdue University! The week will start with a new kickoff event, "Celebrating... Purdue's Thinkers, Creators, & Experimenters," in the Co-Rec and culminating with the annual Undergraduate Research Conference. Smaller events and announcements will be made for the rest of the Week.
Office of Undergraduate Research Sponsors Undergraduate Research Poster Awards for Toxicology Annual Meeting
The OUR sponsored financial awards for undergraduate research poster winners for the Ohio Valley Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting held at Purdue. Two of the three top awards were presented to Purdue undergraduate researchers, Boghos Taslakjian (3rd place) and Assem Imangaliyeva (1st place).
Spring 2018 OUR Scholars Selected
The first cohort of 100 OUR Scholars was selected. OUR Scholars receive a scholarship for completing undergraduate research during the Spring 2018 semester, attending professional development activities, and presenting their work at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference. Applications for the 2018-19 OUR Scholars cohort will be open in late February 2018.