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Friday, February 29, 2008

NCUR Poster Sessions Illustrate Complex Research Topics

SALISBURY, MD---A picture is often worth a thousand words--especially when it comes to complex research.

For undergraduate students investigating such topics as “Pi-Pi Interactions in Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid” or “A New Pharmacotherapy for Schizophrenia” it is much easier to convey results with diagrams and images, than through an oral talk.

That’s why about one-third of SU students participating in the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (April 10-12) have opted to share their studies using a poster.  Held in Maggs Gym, the poster sessions allow students to express large quantities of complicated information in a way that is easy to understand.

Representing fields from communications and music to chemistry and nursing, the poster sessions provide more than an hour for informal Q&A.  NCUR’s oral presenters, however, are limited to a 15-minute talk and only five minutes of questions.

SU junior Lauren Crowder, an environmental health science major, and sophomore Jacob McMullen, a pre-med major, look forward to NCUR’s poster format.  Seasoned presenters, they said it allows for “one-on-one interaction and the ability to address individual questions in detail.”

Their research “Docosahexaenoic Acid: Toxic to Tumors, Friendly to Fish” investigates how mammals and cold-water fish metabolize the fatty acid DHA.  In cold-water fish, DHA is beneficial, but in mammals it causes cells to die.  Applying this to cancer research, their group explored how DHA is specifically effective at killing mammalian cancer cells. As their research continues, Crowder and McMullen said they hope DHA will be an integral part of the fight against cancer.

During another poster session, senior biology major Zoe Hanley illustrates the use of LiDAR laser technology to identify potential habitats for the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel. Similar to radar, LiDAR may be used to calculate landscape and treetop elevation. Hanley reviewed LiDAR scans and then conducted field trips to see if the locations were actually suitable for squirrels. The research raises hopes that laser technology may be used to quickly find alternative habitats for other endangered species around the world, Hanley said.

A poster by SU students Sarah Mann and Carolyn Distler investigates the shift in family structure and dynamics as seen in twelve children’s television programs. Their poster illustrates a drastic change from the ideal American family once seen in such shows as the 1950s “Leave It to Beaver.”

SU students Colbi Custis and Michelle Walsh also use an assortment of photographs, text and visual aids to share their work “Re/Discovering the Art of Flamenco.”  Combining interests in music and Spanish culture, Custis and Walsh delve into the song, dance, guitar style and “hell-raising” celebration of the flamenco movement.

These SU poster presentations are all part of NCUR, the largest undergraduate research conference in the nation. Some 2,800 scholars from 400 institutions and representing more than 50 disciplines will present their research.

For more information call 410-677-5046 or visit the NCUR Web site at http://www.salisbury.edu/ncur22.



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