Student Scholars Day showcases research projects

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Grace Couture

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Grace Couture

Hannah Lentz

Originally published 4/9/15

Over 400 presentations by more than 600 student presenters lined the Grand River Room, Henry Hall and the Mary Idema Pew Library at Grand Valley State University for Student Scholars Day on Wednesday, April 8.

Student Scholars Day is an event held once each year to celebrate the scholarship and creativity of upperclassmen. Representatives from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Mercy Health and the College of Health Professions were in attendance, as well as students.

“This is what Grand Valley is all about,” said CLAS Dean Frederick Antczak. “This is an opportunity to work with your professor and add to your knowledge outside of a lecture hall. You’re actually doing the work that is required of your field of research.”

Areas of study displayed at the event ranged from social media habits to medical explorations. One of these projects focused on Drosophila Genomics Research. The project looks to take its scientific applications and apply them to human needs.

“Everything that we’re doing here can be used to look at human genes and how they express in disease states or in healthy states, and it’s really relevant to human medicine,” said Christopher Timmer, a student involved with the project. “We’re developing technology that can sequence DNA very quickly. This model of actually fixing genes is fine tuning the same process we will find in humans.”

Another student project looked into the impact of a paleolithic diet and exercise regiment on the heart. Chelsea Horvath, one of the project contributors, hopes to use this information in her future career in physical therapy.

“Knowing more about more diets is never a bad thing,” Horvath said. “If someone comes in with cardiovascular problems, I can provide them with a new diet and exercise that will help them have the most efficient results.”

Though some of the names of the projects were quite extensive, students working on these projects were present to speak with those in attendance and explain their group’s goals.

“If you don’t understand something, you have to go up and ask about it,” Antczak said. “Some of these projects may seem distant at first, but after you talk with them, you can really see the life applications they may have, even to your life.”

Additionally, student groups had to establish a mentorship with a member of GVSU faculty or staff throughout their work. For each project there was a mentor present, and often, mentors worked with multiple groups in similar areas of study.

“One of the neatest things about being at Grand Valley is to be able to work one on one with undergrads, and this is a good opportunity to get to present their work in front of a friendly audience,” said Sheldon Kopperl, biomedical sciences and liberal studies professor. “It is good practice for when they go into meetings and presentations.”

Student Scholars Day projects can be part of a course or as independent collaborations with faculty. GVSU encourages all students to consider to share their work with the GVSU community, Antczak said.

“My favorite question to ask people is, ‘What was your most productive failure?’ Because, when you do a research project, there are false starts, and what’s important about it is not that you got it right or wrong but that you learned the proper technique of what to focus in on,” Antczak said.

Concluding the day of student celebration, Brian Fagan, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, gave the keynote speech entitled “A Warming World and Changing Seas: An Archaeologist Looks at Climate Change,” where he discussed rising sea levels and the study of ancient climate change.

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