April 20, 2017
The 2017 Undergraduate Research Conference featured 337 poster presentations and 40 slide show presentations by 550 students from across the university. With more than 1,500 in attendance, all locations in TUC were bustling with chatter and activity. The atmosphere was created in part by the grouping of projects by 21st Century Theme, which “stimulated interactions between students tackling similar problems from different perspectives,” says Interim Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Megan Lamkin.
For example, Rickey Terrell, a junior Chemical Engineering major was excited to meet others in the “New Frontiers” cluster where he shared his work on nanoparticle applications to improved fuel cell design. “One of my neighbors was working to synthesize livers from adult stem cells; another was working on quantum computing; and a third was trying to understand how certain bacteria survive extreme heat. I could list 10 different projects within 10 feet that blew my mind. It really was a wonderful to see all the research students are engaged in at UC,” commented Terrell.
“It is difficult to express the magnitude of quality work at this event,” says Lamkin. When pressed for examples, Lamkin commented on several presentations that have implications for the Cincinnati area. For example, Design Major Nathan’s Powell shared his concept for a local marketing campaign to promote mutual empathy among those on either side of the #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter debate. Lewanda Laboy (Substance Abuse Counseling) shared her concept for “Reaching Beyond”, a facility aimed at helping Cincinnati’s homeless population regain stability and a sense of dignity. Parrish Preston (Political Science) shared his findings regarding the effect of Cincinnati area refugee settlements on crime rates over a five-year period, reporting no impact. My Dao (Medicine, Health, & Society) exposed the “Whole Body Radiation Study” from 1960-1972, an event she discovered in the archives of UC Health’s Winkler Center Library. Katie Clontz’s (Biology) report of archeobotanical finds in Newtown, OH revealed survival strategies of native societies. Ian Raffenberg (Environmental Studies) piloted a DNA-based high-precision water quality monitoring project for the Mill Creek. “I could go on,” says Lamkin. “The level of research in which our students engage is deeply moving and incredibly valuable. My hope is that more students recognize the value of a research experience and get involved. It’s good for the individual, the community, and the world.”