Spotlight on Undergraduate Research

Spring 2012 | Robert Morris

Spotlight on Undergraduate ResearchUndergraduates in the School of Science and Engineering continue to immerse themselves in exciting research projects under faculty guidance, such as investigating the ongoing effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, modeling genetic diversity in humans and working with local companies to implement new technology. Below are some recent examples:

A number of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) students in assistant professor Caz Taylor's laboratory are engaging in innovative research projects:

  • Benjamin Jones (senior, joint EEB and Mathematics major) is doing research for his honors thesis building an oceanographic computer model to model the dispersal of blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico. His research will address questions about how far larvae potentially affected by the oil spill will travel. Ben is planning to go onto graduate school studying biological oceanography.

  • Stephanie Wagstaff (senior, EEB major, chemistry minor), is conducting interdisciplinary honors research using chemical analyses to test for contamination of larval blue crabs from the oil spill and from wastewater. Stephanie is planning to go on to medical school.

  • Laura Matthews (senior, joint EEB and anthropology major) is using computer models to simulate expected patterns of genetic diversity in human populations. In Fall 2011, Laura was supported by a Supervised Undergraduate Research Experience grant of $5,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents. She has presented her work at a conference for undergraduate research in Knoxville, Tenn., and traveled to the University of California — Los Angeles to work with collaborators. Laura is planning to go to graduate school in anthropology.

  • Caroline Mitchell (senior, EEB major) is conducting her departmental honors research on the ability of an invasive species to disperse by water.

  • Kyle Coblentz (junior, EEB major, chemistry minor) is conducting research examining the drivers of variation in benthic invertebrate communities of the Gulf Coast. Kyle has worked with collaborators at LUMCON and obtained an $2,500 undergraduate research grant for his work from Louisiana Seagrant. He also has received support from an NSF REU supplement. Kyle plans to participate in research in Panama this summer with new EEB faculty member, Dr. Sunshine Van Bael.

In Biomedical Engineering, student Ben Bullock has completed a project under the mentorship of Mic Dancisak, Senior Professor of the Practice in the Tulane Center for Anatomical and Movement Sciences (Biomedical Engineering). The project was partially supported by a local manufacturer and distributor Athletic Training Innovations, based out of Kenner (LA). Ben’s work centered on incorporating new tri-axial accelerometer technology into the company's unique Katapult® training shoe. The new system will allow athletes and coaches to quantify important athletic markers, such as sprint acceleration, vertical jump height, and foot movement.

In the Department of Psychology, senior Ashlei Peterson, studying under Professor Jeffrey J. Lockman, is an author on a poster that has been accepted for presentation at the upcoming meetings of the International Conference on Infant Studies in Minneapolis this June. Ashlei is doing work on how young children in China learn how to use chopsticks.

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