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Research Symposium Highlights Students’ Discoveries

Monday, October 23, 2017

Discoveries in areas of magnetotactic bacteria, synthetic vectors, tissue engineering and biofuels were among a variety of science and engineering research projects featured in the Interdisciplinary Research Collaborative’s 14th Undergraduate Research Symposium on campus Oct. 20.

This year’s event, conducted in conjunction with the American Chemical Society’s Wabash Valley Section Undergraduate Research Conference, included 12 oral presentations and a poster session, with students discussing 11 other projects.

The symposium showcases the quality research and academic-related projects completed by Rose-Hulman undergraduate students, according to IRC director Mark Brandt, professor of chemistry. He adds that the event also gives students valuable experiences to discuss their work in front of their student peers, faculty members, and local professional engineers and scientists.

Most of the projects resulted from the IRC’s Summer Research Program, which provides Rose-Hulman undergraduate students an opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research, in a supportive team environment, and expand their knowledge about science and engineering principles.

“Interdisciplinary research is gaining prominence in both academia and industry, as new techniques from one discipline are applied to problems in other disciplines,” said Brandt. “By acquiring experience in interdisciplinary research, students become more attractive to potential post-graduate programs and employers.”

Rose-Hulman students making presentations at this year’s symposium were:

  • Casey Garner, junior mechanical engineering and mathematics major, on “Reclassification of Protein Families through Uncertain Data Envelopment Analysis” (project with faculty mentor Allen Holder, professor of mathematics)

  • J. Blake McLemore, junior chemistry student, on “Photocatalytic Degradation of Aldrin and Dieldrin by m-BiVO$/BiOBr/Pd Ternary Composite” (with colleagues Edward Miller, Elsayed Zahran, Marc Knecht and Leonidas Bachas)

  • Lucas Mihlbachler, junior chemical engineering major, on “Impact of pH, Ion Choice and Concentration Upon the Properties of a Self-Healing Mineral Hydrogel” (with colleagues Huan Zhang and Nichole Zacharia)

  • Emma Brewer, a sophomore biomedical engineering student, on “Modeling Chronic Vascular Responses Following a Major Arterial Occulsion” (with Jordan Pellett)

  • Madeline Pasco, senior biology major, on “Investigating the Taxis and Spatial Dispersal of Magnetotactic Bacteria” (with faculty mentors Jennifer O’Connor, associate professor of biology, and Marrij Syed, professor of physics and optical engineering)

  • Bethany Lefeber, senior biomedical engineering major, on “Tubular Collagen Scaffolds Used to Model Vascular Interactions Between Endothelial Cells and Adipose Tissue” (with colleagues Brianna Roux, Katerina Stojkova, Chengyao Wang, Eric Brey and Abhinav Bhushan)

  • Allison Harpel, sophomore chemical engineering major, and Madison Muncie, junior biochemistry major, on “Measuring the Response of Vitamin B9 and B12 Binding Riboswitches in Synthetic Vectors” (part of a synthetic biology project team that includes Julia Walsh, Paul Earhart, Audrey Brand and Frankie Yang)

  • Jin Young Song, a senior mechanical engineering student, on “Improvement in Ambient Mass Spectrometry Sensitivity via Computational Fluid Dynamics” (with colleagues Brian Molnar, Jacob Shelley, Gary Hieftje and Allen White)

  • Anna Braun and Zhen Ni, junior chemistry and chemical engineering students, on “Analysis of Degradation in Air with Annealing Temperature Variability of Methylammonium Lead Triiodide Films” (with chemistry and biochemistry faculty mentors Rebecca DeVasher and Michelle Hoffman)

  • Cole McFadden, junior biomedical engineering major, and Melissa Rivera, senior biomedical engineering major, on “Investigation of Sex-Related Biomechanical Differences in a Controlled-Descent Activity” (with faculty mentor Renee Rogge, the Samuel F. Hulbert Chair in Biomedical Engineering)

  • Rhiannon Turner, sophomore physics major, on “Investigating the Role of Metal Ion Binding in the Antioxidant Behavior of Sulfur and Selenium Compounds” (with chemistry and biochemistry faculty mentor Daniel Morris)

Students presenting posters highlighting their research experiences were biology students Alexander Lacrampe and Jacob Wentzel; biomedical engineering student Lotanna Nwandu; chemistry student Richard Clark; chemical engineering students Henry Johnson, Ross Klauer, Gaoshan Li, Caitlin Meiser, Rachel Shubella, Lauren Stork and Sichen Zhong; civil engineering students Juliann Apple and Pascal Schlee; mechanical engineering student Gandhi Shubhankar; and physics student Valerie Grafton.