Colloquium to Showcase Student Research, Creativity

The research and creativity of Midwestern State University students will be in the spotlight Friday, April 13, during the Third Annual Scholarship Colloquium at Clark Student Center. The colloquium will give the campus and community the chance to witness the wide range of projects, both scholarly and artistic, that MSU students and faculty have undertaken.

The colloquium will begin at 10 a.m. with podium presentations in Wichita I and II in Clark Student Center. Poster presentations and demonstrations will follow from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Atrium and Comanche Suites.

The colloquium is a celebration of the scholarly inquiry that MSU, one of 26 members of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, prides itself on cultivating in its students. Most of the scholarly projects are pursued in collaboration with faculty researchers and creative artists. Having the presentations concentrated during the colloquium

"Many MSU students engage in original research projects that build on what they learn in the classroom," said Dr. Alisa White, MSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "The projects may take the form of traditional research and test a hypothesis, may be applied and solve a real problem, or may take the form of creative arts projects. The Scholarship Colloquium gives undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty the chance to showcase their work, and demonstrates the university's research culture."

Podium presentations include research by the Department of Mass Communication on how much Americans know about First Amendment freedoms and the Mechanical Engineering and Theatre departments collaboration on large-scale puppets for the original play "Bandersnatch." The production, which was one of six selected to be showcased at the Regional American College Theater Festival, garnered numerous awards, including a national award from the United States Institute of Theatre Technology.

Among the poster presentations that demonstrate the interesting and useful research undertaken by MSU students is one developed by radiology majors that documents radiographic images of diseases such as pneumonia, leprosy, osteoporosis, aortic aneurysm, and myeloma.

Colloquium Snapshots

Topics ranging from telemental health services in Oklahoma to media portrayals of home education to earthworms to a Mustangs iPhone app will be presented during the Scholarship Colloquium. Sixty teams with a total of 131 members will make poster and podium presentations. A sampling of the wide range of topics follows.

Graduate student Sanjeev Mahabir sampled aquatic insects from temporary and permanent desert streams in West Texas. The survey, the first of its kind in that area, will add to the knowledge of aquatic insects inhabiting streams in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Prakash Dhanjani will present research and the practical application of his method of discovering DNA sequences known as microsatellites. These DNA sequences are important for population biologists who study groups of animals and plants. Dhanjani is nearing completion of his master's degree in biology.

Undergraduate students Daneille Goode and Yesinia Manzur, with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Jon Scales, are sequencing the entire mitochondrial DNAs of two subpopulations of the white-footed mouse. They will present their current data and an overview of their research.

Biology majors Fabiola Corbette and Jadrian Porter, under the mentorship of Associate Biology Professor Dr. Mike Shipley, investigated the fatty acid composition of female cochineal insects. Corbette and Porter harvested females from cacti in the Wichita Falls area and extracted fats from both the insects and the cactus pulp. The fatty compounds were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The student researchers found a total of seven fatty acids (both saturated and unsaturated) associated with the cochineal insect, with myristic acid being the most abundant. The students are seeking to understand how these insects make the fatty acids they need for growth and development from the fatty acids they consume from prickly pear cacti.

Chemistry and music major Alejandro Ochoa and biology and chemistry major Verona Sutton have investigated ways to degrade MSU cafeteria waste for the production of biofuels. Biogenic methane, methane produced by micro-organisms, is one such biofuel. Their faculty mentor is Dr. Jim Masuoka, Assistant Professor of Biology, and the project was pursued in collaboration with Dr. Salim Azzouz, Assistant Professor of Engineering.

Abhishek Chatterjee, McCoy School of Engineering junior, designed a project to study the feasibility of mechanisms that take advantage of the extraneous kinetic energy of multiple vehicles by transforming it into usable energy. The project, which is being supervised by Azzouz, calls for multiple vehicles to pass over specially manufactured smoothened bumps installed at the entrances to the university. The resulting compression will actuate a hydro-mechanical system that will produce compressed air. The compressed air could then be collected in centralized storage tanks and used to drive air motors or air turbines such as those used for air conditioning units, refrigeration systems, pumps, or electricity generators.

The Plant Physiology class currently being taught by Biology Professor Dr. Magaly Rincón-Zachary investigated whether or not vitamin C protects plants from aluminum toxicity. Aluminum is present in soils in complexes with other elements. It becomes available to plants and other organisms when the soil acidity increases.

Biology graduate student Candace Hughes will present results from an independent study she conducted to assess the nutrient value of various topsoil additives for earthworms in a garden setting.

Biology student Thomas Gray will speak about the connection between genetic diversity and language in understanding the role language and culture play in artificial selection.

Education students Shasta Gibson, Lori Phillips and Kristen Wilhelm will present playful new vocabulary teaching strategies for middle school students designed to boost learning.

The value of the Dillard College of Business Administration's study abroad programs will be the subject of marketing major Taylor Turner, Bradley Dittmar, John Dotson and Shari Augustine's presentation.

Mass communication majors Anastasia Reed and Josh Hayter, with Brandi Stroud and Madison Zenk, will present "What do Americans Know About the First Amendment?" a video that shows that most of their respondents were not knowledgeable on the First Amendment and how it applies to everyday forms of expression.

"The Festival of the Little Devils," a video by social work major Amanda Crihfield, illustrates the cultural strengths of the Boruca tribe in Costa Rica and its success in maintaining ethnic identity without absorption into the Spanish culture. Crihfield's study shows how pride in culture can lead to a sense of community.