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Students shine at Capitol for Undergraduate Research Day

Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:30 PM

CHARLESTON -- Sen. Evan Jenkins, a Democrat who represents Cabell County, expressed amazement Thursday morning at the breadth and depth of research on display in the Capitol Rotunda as part of the 10th annual Undergraduate Research Day.

He also said it had him thinking about the proposed state budget, which has $34 million in cuts to higher education.

"Everybody always talks about the best and brightest, and this is the day you get to meet the best and brightest," Jenkins said. "If we cut higher ed, we're potentially cutting opportunities these students have."

And it's not just opportunities for the students but also the state, he said, noting several projects could impact the future of the state or country. There were several projects related to health care done by Marshall University students, including one on hypertension by sophomore Erin Fankhanel, another on kidney damage and a new drug by Rebekkah and Derek Ramsey, and rehabilitation and recovery options for obesity and eating disorders by Heather Fry and Ericka Staples.

Fankhanel, a biology major from Hurricane, said she loves research because it can make a difference. And, she said she was encouraged to see so many students from higher education who feel the same way.

"It's exciting to see these other people who are like me and who are my age working to advance science," she said.

But it wasn't just health care fields. There were several projects from Marshall's 31 students on computer science and engineering. Senior Alex King developed a new keystroke biometrics security application, while fellow senior Travis Rainey developed a mobile application to help college students track their grades and save screenshots in their phone to ensure accuracy with what the professor is recording.

Both said the technological fields are booming, providing entrepreneurial and research opportunities, even at the undergraduate level.

"It goes to show you the value of undergraduate research," King said. "It could translate into graduate school or a job."

Tessa Maynard and her partner Nathan Tehrani presented research on astronomy data related to pulsars, something Maynard became interested in while attending Tolsia High School in Wayne County. The sophomore at West Virginia University said she is passionate about the research because of the scientific advancement that it could translate to.

Though the projects were very diverse, there was one thing they all had in common, said Charles Somerville, dean of Marshall's College of Science and a member of the event's organizing committee.

"One of the things people don't realize about higher education is the tremendously talented people," he said. "Research can really turn a student around."

John Maher, Marshall's vice president for research, said the work students are doing is on par with that done at the best universities in the country.

"This event provides a unique opportunity for members of the Legislature to see an aspect of higher education normally hidden from public view, but that is one of the most important tools for developing students for entry into the workplace or postgraduate education," Maher said.

In addition to Marshall, 14 other universities and colleges will be represented at the event, including Alderson-Broaddus College, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Ohio Valley University, Shepherd University, University of Charleston, West Liberty University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Wheeling Jesuit University and WVU Institute of Technology.

Participating students

The following is a list of Marshall University students who participated in Thursday's Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Charleston.

Kristen Bobuk, Belle Vernon, Pa., engineering, "Design and Construction of a Model Steel Bridge to Meet Specifications for Competition"

Rebekkah Brown, Cross Lanes, biochemistry, "Resveratrol Reduces Kidney Injury induced by Hydrogen Peroxide"

Luke Brumfield, Barboursville, computer science/information technology, "Expert System for Reverse Mathematics"

James Caldwell, Hurricane, computer science/information technology, "Creation of the Inventory College of Information Technology and Engineering (IN-CITE) Project for Real-Time Management of Laboratory Equipment"

Erin Fankhanel, Hurricane, biology, "Use of cerium oxide nanoparticles for the treatment of pulmonary and cardiac remodeling during pulmonary arterial hypertension in Sprague Dawley rats"

Matthew Ferguson, Barboursville, computer science/information technology, "Calculating PageRank in Cloud Computing"

Heather Fry, Kenova, psychology, "Obesity Objectives"

Robert Gaum, Charleston, computer science/information technology, "Creation of the Inventory College of Information Technology and Engineering (IN-CITE) Project for Real-Time Management of Laboratory Equipment"

Joseph Hall, Lawrence, Ohio, computer science/information technology, "MarcOS"

Bradley Hammond, Huntington, computer science/information technology, "Building inverted indexing in Cloud Computing"

Finley Hammond, Huntington, computer science/information technology, "Marshall University Cybersecurity Research and Education System (CRES) version 3"

Courtney Hatten, Wayne, chemistry, "Pyrolysis Products from the Thermal Decomposition of Butyraldehyde"

William Hice, Oak Hill, psychology, "Tests of resiliency models of women's criminal behavior"

Alex King, Fairmont, computer science/information technology, "LockoutII"

Cameron Loader, Sugar Land, Texas, computer science/information technology, "Data Mining for Diabetes Medical Data"

Kyle Merritt, Lesage, engineering, "Design and Evaluation of a Canoe Constructed of Concrete"

Rikki Miller, Ripley, biochemistry, "Kidney Damage by Cisplatin is Protected by Resveratrol in a Human Kidney Cell Line"

James Moore, Barboursville, computer science/information technology, "Web Application for the Search Committee on Recognizing Excellent Students (SCORES)"

Emmanuel Pittore, Wayne, computer science/information technology, "Marshall University Cybersecurity Research and Education System (CRES) version 3"

Travis Rainey, Fraziers Bottom, computer science/information technology, "Grade Tracker"

Derek Ramsey, Caldwell, biochemistry, "Resveratrol Reduces Kidney Injury induced by Hydrogen Peroxide"

Nicholas Riggleman, Evans, computer science/information technology, "Quality Control for a Non-Profit Organization"

Michelle Schaller, Morgantown, psychology, "Tests of resiliency models of women's criminal behavior"

Sean Sovine, Huntington, computer science/information technology, "MIDAS: Multiple-Inferencing Document Automatic Summarization"

Caleb Spencer, Huntington, computer science/information technology, "Expert System for Reverse Mathematics" and "Calculating PageRank in Cloud Computing"

Anthony Stephenson, Ironton, Ohio, biochemistry, "The effect of glycerol availability on the production of triacylglycerols in Chlorella vulgaris"

Ericka Staples, Beckley, psychology, "Obesity Objectives"

Kasey Stickler, Huntington, biochemistry, "Comparison of Lipid Accumulation in Photomixotrophically and Heterotrophically Grown Chlorella vulgaris Cultures under Nitrogen and Nitrogen-Starved Conditions"

Morgan Stickler, Huntington, biochemistry, "Comparison of Lipid Accumulation in Photomixotrophically and Heterotrophically Grown Chlorella vulgaris Cultures under Nitrogen and Nitrogen-Starved Conditions"

Brian Warner, Lawrence, Ohio, chemistry, "Pyrolysis Products from the Thermal Decomposition of Pivaldehyde"

Emily Wright, Beckley, chemistry, "Pyrolysis Products from the Thermal Decomposition of Pivaldehyde"

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