Undergraduates in Washington

Sze+Cheng+%E2%80%9817+and+her+research+about+Melanop-+sin+mRNA+in+the+Iris+of+the+turtle.+%5BPhoto+by+Hana+Isihara+%E2%80%9817%5D%0A

Sze Cheng ‘17 and her research about Melanop- sin mRNA in the Iris of the turtle. [Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17]

Sadie Lebow

Nineteen lafayette students present research at national conference

Nineteen Lafayette students went to Washington this week and presented their research at the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research on topics ranging from how dogs make decisions to organic chemistry.

“The goal of NCUR is really to foster opportunities for students to do research with faculty, research in independent projects, the kinds of projects that really allow you to demonstrate what you’ve learned and that you’ve advanced your learning to the very highest level,” President Alison Byerly said.

“I hope to get some feedback about my ideas, and see a lot of other peoples feedback and poster,” said Kaitlin Brown ’15, who will be presenting her senior psychology thesis.

Brown, who hopes to eventually attend graduate school, researched a behavioral response in domesticated dogs.

It will be Brown’s first time presenting at a conference.

“I feel a little overwhelmed by the conference because there’s going to be around 3000 people there,” she said.

Other attendees shared Brown’s anticipation. The conference is also a first for Samantha Zeiders ‘15. Zeiders, who conducted research related to organic chemistry, the experience will also be a test-run of her senior thesis.

“I’m getting a little nervous, because I still need to go over my presentation a little more, but it should be good practice for my thesis so that I know how to handle the questions,” Zeiders said.

Other students did research unrelated to an honors thesis. Alexandra Nagurney ‘16 spent last summer doing research at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Nagurney’s work, which as funded through a Research Experience for Undergraduates by the National Science Foundation, was unrelated to her work at Lafayette.

Nagurney said her work looked at “how shale gas production in Colorado affects air quality emissions throughout the state to see which parts of transportation, production and combustion of the gas contribute most to air pollution.”

The conference will offer Lafayette students the opportunity to showcase their hard work in a professional setting, a feat that can be difficult for undergraduates.

“It’s a good experience to go to a conference with undergraduate research, because at other schools you don’t get as many opportunities to go to conferences as an undergraduate,” Zeiders said.

“I think 19 students is a very sizable contingent,” Byerly said. “It speaks to the opportunities for independent research that we have at Lafayette…I think our curriculum always just had a strong emphasis on giving students the tools to really do things themselves and so that’s really consistent with NCUR’s mission.”