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NDSU undergraduates discuss research with state lawmakers

More than a dozen NDSU undergraduate students and faculty advisers shared results of their research projects at NDSU Undergraduate Research Day held at the State Capitol in Bismarck on Jan. 27. The event was coordinated by the NDSU Office of Research and Creative Activity

Students from various disciplines displayed their research in the hall of the Capitol building between legislative chambers. Katherine Schulz, a junior in emergency management from Fargo, discussed her research as part of a seven-member team that conducted a study on the direct and indirect impacts of oil drilling and production on the emergency management function in North Dakota. A report on the study will soon be released statewide. A public presentation is scheduled at NDSU for Thursday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Century Theater.

Schulz’s adviser, Carol Cwiak, assistant professor of emergency management, noted benefits from participating in the event at the legislature. “I believe it gave them a sense of the power their research contributions can have,” she said. “It is one thing to say to students that they have the power to change the world with their educational endeavors, and it is quite another thing to provide them such a rich platform in which to do so.”

Andrew Dalman, a senior from Minneapolis, majoring in manufacturing engineering, provided information to lawmakers in his display about research on production of artificial versions of native bone. “It felt meaningful to be able to demonstrate the progress of my research,” said Dalman.

“The day was an excellent opportunity for our best and brightest to gain direct understanding of the priorities and interests of our state legislators,” said David Wells, Dalman’s adviser and professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering.

Bottineau, North Dakota, native Heather Milbrath, a senior majoring in agricultural communications, discussed her research regarding the state of the rural press in North Dakota. Study results are revealing how North Dakota bucks trends and could be a model for the nation in areas of public interest. Her adviser is Charles Okigbo, professor of communication.

Bridget Eklund studies roaches. More specifically, the junior from Scandia, Minnesota, studies the bacterium, Francisella tularensis, which can lead to the infectious disease Tularemia. She uses cockroaches to research helper chaperone proteins that play a role in the disease. In addition to participating in Undergraduate Research Day, Eklund is an invited speaker at the American Society for Microbiology Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting in Washington, D.C. Majoring in microbiology, Eklund is advised by Nathan Fisher, assistant professor of veterinary and microbiological sciences.

Equine facilities were the focus of senior interior design majors Abby Chappell, Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Brittany Indergaard, Carrington, North Dakota. They provided lawmakers information about their research on Family Dynamics and Sustainable Practices In Family-Owned Equine Facilities. “It was fun to interact with different people and explain what we do as students. We enjoyed having the chance to go sit in the House with Fargo representatives and cast a vote,” said Chappell. Their adviser is Susan Ray-Degges, associate professor of interior design.

Davis Fischer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a senior in electrical engineering, is studying the effects of radiofrequency energy on neural gene expression in the mouse. The goal of this work is to determine if radiofrequency energy can be used in new medical therapies or diagnoses. The research is supported, in part, by a ND Venture Grant. Keerthi Nawa, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is Fischer’s adviser.

Jacob Parrow of Fargo studies the interaction of radiofrequency energy and DNA to determine if certain radiofrequencies interact with DNA, as a first step in using radiofrequency to manipulate DNA and gene expression for therapeutic purposes. He summed up the day by saying, “A cool experience to leave Fargo with a group of students on a bus, and visit the capitol and visit with politicians about what we are working on.” His adviser is Benjamin Braaten, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Bashir Khoda, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, provided a demonstration of 3D printing applications to legislators. Also participating were David Lehman, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Extension specialist, and Jared Sand, a freshman from Monticello, Minnesota, majoring in mechanical engineering. They provided North Dakota University System Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen with a 3D scale model of the State Capitol building, as well as a 3D Bison replica.

“The NDSU Undergraduate Research Day in Bismarck provided lawmakers a first-hand view of how NDSU serves its citizens when students are provided opportunities for enhanced learning through research. Undergraduate research builds critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills that students can use in their future careers and are leadership skills that employers seek,” said Kelly A. Rusch, NDSU vice president for research and creative activity.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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North Dakota State University
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