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MTSU Undergraduates Present Research Projects to Legislators

Press Release from Middle Tennessee State University; Feb. 1, 2012:

Though they’ve yet to complete their college degrees, some of MTSU’s brightest scholars have earned the opportunity to present their scientific research to Tennessee legislators in the state Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

In 2006, Tennessee became the 13th state to participate in Posters at the Capitol, an annual event that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to display their research to the public.

MTSU students will be among 61 undergrads from Tennessee Board of Regents universities—including Austin Peay, East Tennessee, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and the University of Memphis—and the three University of Tennessee campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin to present posters on their research.

Posters at the Capitol was created by the Council on Undergraduate Research, an organization that promotes faculty research with undergraduates. CUR encourages individual states to participate in the program, which is based on the national event held annually in Washington D.C.

In 2005, Dr. Tom Cheatham, dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences at MTSU, became interested in starting a Posters event for Tennessee universities. After attending a CUR informational session, Cheatham contacted Dr. Paula Short, vice chancellor of the TBR, and proposed that Tennessee participate in the program.

Next, Cheatham contacted then-State Rep. John Hood, an MTSU alumnus and representative for the 48th District, to ask him to serve as a legislative liaison to help the program get started.

With Short’s approval and Hood’s help, Cheatham’s committee organized the first Posters at the Capitol event in Tennessee in 2006.

“It’s a real pleasure for me, a labor of love,” Cheatham explains. “I believe in undergraduate research, and this is a way to showcase that to our state Legislature.”

The TBR recognized MTSU with its annual Academic Excellence Award in 2007 based on the success of the Posters at the Capitol program.

Cheatham adds, “It gets students from nine universities together and lets them talk about the great things they’re doing. It’s a really exciting day.”

This year’s Posters at the Capitol event will be held on the first floor of Legislative Plaza in Nashville beginning at 10 a.m. The public also is invited to attend and talk with the students about their research and presentations.

MTSU will be represented at this year’s event by the research of Miguel Hurtado; Ethan Khazali; co-collaborators Eric Limbird and William Hamilton; collaborators Courtney Shaw, Rae’Shundra Brown, Brittney Oliver Amanda Cole, Poliala Mahoney-Dickson and Samuel Sowah; collaborators Aline Pellizzaro, G. Welker and O. Mohammed; collaborators Daniel Bonior, Benjamin Bunnel, John Bentley and Hanna Norris; and collaborators Emily Shields, Andrew Jones, Tyler Hubbard and Dallas Swindell.

MTSU student presenters, their faculty mentors and abstract titles include:

  • Bonior with faculty mentor Dr. Daniel Erenso, “Spectral and Polarization Entanglement Swapping in Two Pairs of Twin Photons”;
  • Hurtado with Dr. Beng Guat Ooi, “Conversion of Kenaf Pulp to Glucose for the Production of Bioethanol”;
  • Khazali with Dr. Paul Kline, “Isolation of Adenosine Deaminase from Alaska Pea Seeds”;
  • Limbird with Dr. Nathan C. Phillips, “Variation in Rhododendron Calendulaceum Germination Behavior Influenced by Seed Morphology and Site Specific Characteristics”;
  • Pellizzaro with Erenso, “Response to Optical Trapping by Red Blood Cells from a Transfused Sickle Cell Patient”;
  • Shaw with Dr. Andrew Owusu, “The Relationship Between Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Mental Health Status Among Tennessee High School Students”; and
  •  Shields with Dr. William Langston, “Individual Differences in Embodiment.”

To learn more about MTSU’s Posters at the Capitol program, please visit www.mtsu.edu/urc/posters_urc.shtml

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