Weekend events shine spotlight on research at PSU

April 23rd, 2012 by Tim

In one room over two days, student research at Plymouth State University took Center Stage.

Dozens of students and their faculty mentors participated in Friday’s (April 27) Research Symposium and Saturday’s (April 28) Student Showcase of Excellence. With posters, PowerPoint and performances, students presented the results from research projects representing a variety of academic disciplines.

[Click here to view a gallery of images from the research events.]

“This [research] is the heart and soul of what we do at Plymouth State University,” said PSU President Sara Jayne Steen. “You walk among the best.”

Friday’s Research Symposium was offered in connection with the National Institute for Health’s IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant to increase opportunities for faculty and student research. Saturday’s Student Showcase of Excellence included projects representing a range of academic disciplines and demonstrates outstanding student scholarship. Students representing more than 18 academic departments displayed and demonstrated original research in the sciences, arts and humanities, along with original music and dance performances.

PSU Provost Julie Bernier reminded students and guests at Saturday’s program that, “Research is key to student success.” Among the goals of research activities at PSU are enhancing learning through mentoring, preparing students for employment, developing critical thinking skills and creating intellectual independence. “It is a collaborative enterprise between student and faculty.”

Lissa Tupek (Belmont, N.H.), a graduate student in School Counseling described an alternative to the traditional disciplinary approach to school truancy. In testing the  “Positive Behavior Intervention Strategy” (PBIS) theory, she found that schools could replace punishment with positive reinforcement, though implementation is not easy. “It requires a school-wide effort,” she found since truancy support would be integrated throughout a student’s school day. She also found that the concept is not widely used, primarily since “it requires a lot of parental support and re-allocation of school resources.”

Junior Jenn Lewis (Farmington, N.H.) researched “mortality and possible sub-lethal effects” among the American Horseshoe crab after it is returned to the ocean following blood extraction. The blood of this species, Limulus polyphemus, is harvested for use as a clotting agent. Jenn and her co-researchers, including Charles Nasser (Jr., Malibu, Calif.) and Callie DeGrace (Jr., Holderness, N.H.) worked with Professor of Biology Christopher Chabot, found a great incidences of heart rate decline, among other issues, which may lead to mortality. “These stresses,” they write in their abstract, “may be contributing to the decline in Limulus populations.”

While fans of coxeter groups understand their relevance to abstract algebra, Zach Goldenberg (Jr., Barrington N.H.) also says there are important applications in the advancement of computer science. He and his co-researchers, Jessica Kelly (Sr., Deerfield, N.H.) and Joseph Cormier (Jr., Laconia, N.H.) discussed the “Classification of the T-Avoiding Permutations and Generalizations to other Coxeter Groups.”

For Colleen O’Hara (Jr., Otego, N.Y.) her painting of a women eating spaghetti while meatballs flew around the canvas required a considerable amount of background study. “What does a meatball look like,” she wondered, and proceeded to cook a batch, taking note of the variety of shades of brown, grey and black found on the finished product. “To really capture it, you’ve got to experience it.” She adds, “Painting often takes you somewhere completely unexpected.”

[Click here to view a gallery of images from the research events.]