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Seven students honored at research celebration

BOONE—Award-winning undergraduate research at Appalachian State University this year focused on water quality monitoring, seizure severity, Triassic period fossils and early primates, while award-winning graduate-level research spotlighted HVAC system analysis, water contamination and a new type of gene.

View larger imageAward-winning undergraduate researchers at Appalachian State University are, from left, Danielle Giangrasso of New York, Kimberly Noel of Asheville, Oliver Burns of Alabama and Jared Voris of Brevard. (Photo credit: Jane Nicholson)View larger imageGraduate students receiving poster presentation awards at Appalachian State University are, from left, Zachary Williams, biology, Charles Tate, biology, and Bryce Oakley, appropriate technology. (Photo credit: Jane Nicholson)

A total of 115 students from 26 departments presented oral and poster presentations or performances during the 17th Annual Celebration of Research and Creative Endeavors held on campus April 10. The students were mentored by 75 faculty members.

Appalachian values research because it allows faculty and students to discover answers to real world questions, enhance quality of life, enrich the classroom experience and contribute to economic development. It also gives students a better understanding of research methods, allows them to apply classroom knowledge and boosts their ability to think and work like a scientist.

Calling research “a hallmark” of Appalachian, Hayes School of Music Dean Bill Pelto served as featured speaker and said, “We have moved beyond the question of asking why we do research. It is now part of our fabric at Appalachian.”

He continued, “Faculty believe and demonstrate daily that research is an essential part of the learning process. We see authentic collaboration that enhances knowledge and student learning.”

Three undergraduate students were honored for excellence in their poster presentations. They were:

  • Geology major Oliver Burns of Birmingham, Ala. – “Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction of an Early Miocene Primate Site; Loperot, Kenya.” Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce
  • Psychology major Danielle Giangrasso of Long Island, N.Y. – “Environmental Enrichment Mitigates Seizure Severity in Adolescent Rats.” Mentor: Dr. Mark Zrull
  • Chemistry major Kimberly Noel of Asheville – “Water Quality Monitoring of Streams Impacted by Coal Waste Acid Mine Drainage in Southwestern Virginia.” Mentor: Dr. Carol Babyak

In addition, the Sigma Xi award for interdisciplinary research was presented to geology major Jared Voris of Brevard for his study “Lateral Osteoderm Analysis of Desmatosuchus Spurensis,” an analysis of two fossilized scales from the crocodile-like aetosaurs found in an Arizona quarry. His mentor was Dr. Andy Heckert.

Three graduate students were also honored for excellence in their poster presentations. They were:

  • Bryce Oakley, appropriate technology – “Occupancy-driven Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Control Within University Academic Buildings and the Associated Energy Impacts: A Case Study of Two Implemented Techniques at Appalachian State University.” Mentor: Dr. Marie Hoepfl
  • Charles Tate, biology – “Differential Binding of Land Applied Waste Water to the Three Estrogen Receptors: ERA, ERBA, and ERBB of the Atlantic Croaker.” Mentor: Dr. Shea Tuberty
  • Zachary Williams, biology – “Indentification and Embryonic Expression of a Highly Conserved Meis-linked Gene.” Mentor Dr. Ted Zerucha

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