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NDSU undergrads discuss research with state lawmakers

Jan. 29, 2015, Bismarck, N.D. -- More than a dozen NDSU undergraduate students and faculty advisors shared results of their research projects at NDSU Undergraduate Research Day held at the State Capitol in Bismarck on Jan. 27 at an event 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 February 19 at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Century Theater.

Schulz’s advisor, Dr. Carol Cwiak, 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, Minnesota, 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 Dalman’s advisor, Dr. David Wells.

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 advisor is Dr. Charles Okigbo.

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 Dr. Nate Fisher.

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 advisor is Dr. Susan Ray-Degges.

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 RF energy can be used in new medical therapies or diagnoses.  This research is supported, in part, by a ND Venture Grant. Dr. Keerthi Nawa serves as advisor.

Jacob Parrow of Fargo studies the interaction of radiofrequency energy and DNA to determine if certain RFs interact with DNA, as a first step in using RF 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 capital and visit with politicians about what we are working on.” His advisor is Dr. Benjamin Braaten in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dr. Bashir Khoda, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, provided a demonstration of 3D printing applications to legislators during Undergraduate Research Day, along with David Lehman, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Extension specialist, and Jared Sand, a freshman from Monticello, Minnesota majoring in mechanical engineering. They provided NDUS Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen who visited the event 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 Dr. Kelly A. Rusch, vice president for research and creative activity.

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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 2:49:01 PM
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