Dozens of West Virginia University students will travel to Charleston to take part in the 11th annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on Thursday (Jan. 30).

WVU and Marshall University coordinate the event, which allows undergraduate students from all over the state to present their research in poster format and then present their findings to state legislators. It will be held from 9 a.m. until noon in the capitol Rotunda.

Keith Garbutt, Eberly Family Professor and dean of the Honors College at WVU said, “The research that these students are producing is the foundation for future.”

“With Undergraduate Research Day, students have the opportunity to interact with members of the State Legislature to showcase the academic innovation that happens at the undergraduate level,” he said.

The goal of the event is to allow undergraduate researchers the opportunity to practice presenting their work in a professional environment and also to show state representatives undergraduate research being conducted at all the colleges and universities in the state.

This year’s event will feature 80 abstract submissions from 13 institutions: Alderson-Broaddus College, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Davis and Elkins College, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Shepherd University, West Liberty State College, West Virginia University, West Virginia Institute of Technology, West Virginia State College and Wheeling Jesuit University.

Students worked alone or in teams to submit abstracts describing their research. Then, 80 abstracts were selected to present based on quality of the project as determined by faculty members’ reviews. WVU will have 29 projects presented by more than 40 students at Undergraduate Research Day.

Senior civil engineering major Rachel James, 22, from Crawford, W.Va., is presenting her project “Accounting for Early and Late Penalties in Stochastic Shortest Paths.”

“My project’s main focus was developing a Monte Carlo simulation based approximation algorithm that examined the variation in optimal route choice in a stochastic network when a user is allowed to place different penalties on their deviation from a desired arrival time,” the 2013 Goldwater winner said. “This is synonymous with a traveler having a preference on whether they arrive early or late to their destination given that it is not possible for them to arrive at their exact preferred arrival time.”

Presenting her research to the legislators is a chance for James to not only inform the state of what she’s working but to gain some experience.

“As an undergraduate student actively applying to graduate school, I know that having research experience will be an invaluable addition to my application,” James said.

“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to not only gain more experience communicating my research, but also for the opportunity to build my resume.”

Follow Andy Maloney on Twitter at @andy_malon3 as he Tweets about Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on Thursday (Jan. 30).

Sophomore chemical engineering major Andy Maloney, of Morgantown, who will present at Undergraduate Research Day, said, “it is a great opportunity to showcase our research to those who help decide where federal/state dollars go. In my opinion, it is a great way to show our legislators that the money they give to universities such as WVU goes a long way, and is well appreciated.

Maloney has been working on understanding reactions between nanomaterials and biological molecules at the nanointerface.

“We are trying to figure out why things happen at the nanoscale,” he said. “This is important because if we can understand why/how things happen, then we could be capable of controlling and manipulating these interactions for the greater good.”

Specifically, his project focuses on developing an interface for bacterial disinfection.

“It is our hope that we can use these conjugates in coating/paints for civilian and military settings. A potential application would be embedding the conjugates in strip-able paint, which could then be placed in hospital settings. With this paint, we could develop a green, enzymatic, clean, user-controlled decontamination system,” Maloney said.

The WVU students participating in the event are:

Caitlin Ahrens, Fairmont, W.Va. (Geology/Earth Science): “Assessment for Forecasting Earthquakes: L’Aquila Case Study”

Makenzie Barr, Bethesda, Ohio (Psychology): “Self-Efficacy in Blood Glucose Monitoring, Smoking Cessation and Breastfeeding in Rural Appalachian Women with Gestational Diabetes and Existing Diabetes during Pregnancy”

Morgan Bush, Charleston, W.Va., and Emily Hoblizell, Marmet, W.Va. (Agriculture): “Effects of weight loss on lipid metabolism in obese horses”

Trevor Butcher, Hollywood, Md. (Chemistry): “PDI-pincer ligands with a modifiable secondary coordination sphere: Synthesis, characterization, and application to transition-metal catalysis”

Margarita Castaneda, Fairfax, Va., and Richard Nolan, Davis, W.Va. (Psychology): “iMade”

Wei-Ting Chang, Hsinchu City, Taiwan (Engineering): “Tools for analyzing real-world wireless networks”

Jordan Drew, Laurel, Md. (Engineering): “Biometric technology for the enhancement of rapid analysis methods for degraded DNA

Dara Erazo, Morgantown, W.Va., and Ty Heimerl, Lewes, Del. (Geography): “Damage from Superstorm Sandy differs by tree size and species”

Christopher Gates, Bridgeport, W.Va., Areej Kuzmar, Uniontown,Pa., and Andrew Radcliffe, Morgantown, W.Va. (Engineering): “Solid oxide and direct carbon fuel cell design, structure, and operation”

Nancy Isner, Grafton, W.Va., and Jessica Carr, Fairmont, W.Va. (Chemistry): “Theoretical study of the interaction between gold surface and CysAlaAla (AlaAlaCys) peptides”

Rachel James, Crawford, W.Va. (Engineering): “Accounting for Early and Late Penalties in Stochastic Shortest Paths”

Quinn Jones, Fairchance, Pa., Jared Blatt, New Martinsville, W.Va., and Tamunotonye Iyalla, Ilupeju Lagos, Nigeria (Computer Sciences): “The Implementation of a Virtual Reality System to Aid Neuroscience Research”

Kayla Lantz, Clarksburg, W.Va., and Rajesh Naz, Morgantown, W.Va. (Biology): “Do Vitamin D serum levels modulate in men with prostate abnormalities, especially prostate cancer?”

Sunita Mahat, Morgantown, W.Va. (Biology): “Regulation of survivin expression in cancer cells with antisense-DNA coupled superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)”

Andrew Maloney, Morgantown, W.Va. (Engineering): “BioNano Enzyme Conjugates with Bacterial Decontamination Capabilities”

Tessa Maynard, Fort Gay, W.Va. (Physics): “Analyzing solar storms from MENA on the IMAGE satellite”

Keelin McGill, Morgantown, W.Va., and Margaret Kinder, Charleston, W.Va. (English): “Electronic Book Review Abstract”

Constance Mitchell, Adamstown, Md. (Chemistry): “Cytokine Correlation Under Stress”

Kartik Motwani, Hurricane, W.Va. (Biology): “Segregated Innervation and Nuclear Eccentricity in Calyx of Held Neurodevelopment”

Obadah Moushmoush, Charleston, W.Va. (Biology): “Over-utilization of Ultrasound in Suspected Deep Vein Thrombosis Patients”

Paula Pacurari, Morgantown, W.Va. (Engineering): “Formation of a 3-D network in alginate spheres”

Michael Powell, Morgantown, W.Va., and Stephen Itschner, Huntingtown, Md. (English): “Optimization of Liquid Spray Cooling in a Variable Gravity Environment”

Arpan Prabhu, Morgantown, W.Va. (Psychology): “Compassion Meditation Increases Positive Perceptions of Difficult People”

Lucas Price, Morgantown, W.Va. (Biology): “Genetic differentiation of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the St. Lawrence Estuary”

Eric Rogers, Morgantown, W.Va. (Engineering): “Non-Intrusive Monitoring of Civil and Mechanical Structural Deflection: A 3D Imaging Approach”

Kirsten Schoonover, Procious, W.Va., Holly Hunsberger, Bridgeton, N.J., and Carolyn Rudy, Rocky River, Ohio (Psychology): “Type II diabetes and leptin resistance: Implications for Alzheimer’s disease”

Savannah Sims, Fairmont, W.Va. (Engineering): “Examining the effects of thermally-degraded nanoclay enforced polylactic acid composite on cellular systems”

Jonathan Tucker, Morgantown, W.Va. (Physics): “Electrostatic Charging in Gas-Solid Fluid Systems”

Brendan Wilson, Oak Hill, W.Va., and Ichhuk Karki, Baltimore, Md. (Chemistry): “Cysteine interactions on Gold nano particles and Gold Clusters”



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