The Sixth VMI Undergraduate Research Symposium Adds New Innovations to an Already Successful Program
April 5, 2007 was another milestone in the six-year history of the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) at VMI. On this date eighty-eight cadets presented results of their faculty-mentored research to an audience of their peers, faculty, and guests at VMI’s sixtth Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). This number of participants is twice that of several years ago. Cadets from all disciplines presented their work in either an oral format, in Scott Ship Hall, or at the poster session held in Cocke Hall. Presentations were divided by academic divisions, Liberal Arts, Science, and Engineering. Faculty and guests served as judges in both oral and poster presentation categories. “This year was truly a milestone for the URI, never did we dream six years ago that we would have this level and quality of participation, it just gets better and better”, said Colonel James E. Turner ’65, Professor of Biology and Chemistry, and Director for Undergraduate Research. “Cadet research projects were of such high quality that many of our guests and faculty were astounded by the complex nature of the work and the poise of the presenters as they talked about their investigations, and we owe this distinction to cadet intellect, and outstanding faculty mentorship”, said Colonel Turner. Several judges commented that a number of presentations were of the quality of Master’s Degree theses. This year the URS was organized by LTC Roger Thompson and LTC David Rachels, both Associate Professors of English and Fine Arts, who co-chaired the planning committee, Patricia Hardin, Instructor in Modern Languages, and the URI Associate Director, and Leslie Joyce, the URI Administrative Assistant. “Their dedication, enthusiasm, and their work ethic went beyond any reasonable expectations because they love to make these things happen in the best possible way for our cadets”, said Colonel Turner.
A new initiative for the URS this year, in addition to the growing inclusion of classroom generated research activities, was arranging at least 50% of the cadet presentations to take place in classes being held that day. Professors Thompson and Rachels hoped that this new venue would provide an excellent opportunity for cadet researchers to bring the excitement of their work to their peers. “From all indications this experiment was a great success”, said Colonel Turner. Plans are already being made to include more such venues for URS 2008.
The activities of the URS culminated in several events through out the day. The key note address was delivered by Doctor Mary Doria Russell, noted author and novelist, during the noon banquet. Her powerful message to cadet researchers was reminiscent of that delivered at VMI in 2005 when she was a keynote speaker at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) hosted by VMI and W&L University. That evening an awards ceremony was held to honor those first, second, and third place cadets finishing at the top of various categories. Cash awards were presented in each of the three academic disciplines and presentation categories. In addition first place winners were presented with iPods. The winners were:
1st place Cadets Jonathan Ostermann and Justin Tench “Fuzzy Logic Control of a Robotic Arm” Advisor: COL David Livingston
Liberal Arts Posters
1st place: Cadet Patrick McGill “Business Preparation for Pandemic Influenza” Advisor: COL Thomas Meriwether
2nd place: Cadet Ryan Marsh “When Easy Becomes Impossible: Examining the Magnitude of Central Executive Impairment in Introverts During Multitasking” Advisor: COL James Gire
3rd place: Cadet Holly Giacolone “Gender Differences in Obsessive Compulsive Personality” Advisor: COL Thomas Meriwether
1st place: Cadet Gregory Schwartz “Production of O2 under Simulated Martian Atmospheric Conditions using an RF Discharge” Advisor: MAJ George Brooke IV
2nd place: Cadet Alexa Bernas “Novel Flavonol Networks” Advisor: MAJ Daren Timmons
3rd place: Cadet Bryan Nelson “The Effects of Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) 4- hydroxyAndrostenendione (4-OH-A), and Estrogen Replacement Therapy on the Development of Sensory- Motor Function in the Zebrafish (Danio rerio)” Advisor: COL James Turner
1st place: Cadet Randall Life “Hydrangeas: The Quest for Novel Colors” Advisor: COL Henry Schreiber
2nd place: Cadet Andrew Holt “Estrogen Effects on AI Treated Zebrafish” Advisor: COL James Turner
3rd place: Cadet Wesley Hopkins “Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers as Weapons of Mass Destruction and Tools of Terror” Advisor: LTC Wade Bell
1st place: Cadet Michael Lloyd “Dissipation of Scalars In a 3-dimensional Computational Model and Comparison of Turbulence Models” Advisor: LTC Matthew Hyre
2nd place: Cadet George Flathers III “Emergency Underground Communication using Seismic Waves” Advisor: LTC James Squire
3rd place: Cadet Andrew Holt “Effects of High Intensity Interval Training on 1.5 mile Performance” Advisor: COL Tom Baur
Liberal Arts Oral
1st place: Cadet John Terminato “Connecting Currencies and Burying Histories: The Effects of the EU on German National Identity” Advisor: COL Malcolm Muir
2nd place: Cadet Benjamin Campbell “Relationship between Passionate Love and Age” Advisor: COL Tom Meriwether
3rd place: Cadet Laura Hash “Connecting Currencies and Burying Histories: The Effects of the EU on German National Identity” Advisor: Mrs. Patricia Hardin
In addition, that evening VMI celebrated the inauguration and dedication of its new undergraduate research journal, New Horizons. LTC Mary Ann Dellinger, the Chief Editor, talked about the outstanding quality of the new journal and what it will mean to VMI’s increasing national reputation in undergraduate research. Special recognition certificates were presented to LTC Dellinger and her editorial staff, LCDR Alexis Hart, Editor for Liberal Arts; MAJ Robert Humston, Editor for Sciences; and CDR Robert McMasters, Editor of Engineering by BG Charles F. Brower, IV, Dean of the Faculty and COL Rob McDonald, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Cadet authors were recognized and presented with copies of the new journal. During closing remarks BG Brower stated that, “VMI’s new undergraduate research journal truly sets us apart from our peers, for not many institutions can claim the quality and significance of such an outstanding and powerful publication which is of the highest quality imaginable”. Following the dedication, LTC Kurt Ayau, Associate Professor of English and Fine Arts, introduced cadet authors who read their works from the Sounding Brass, VMI’s outstanding literary magazine. The URI is indebted to the following VMI institutions for their financial support, without which this important event could not take place: the Jackson-Hope Fund, the VMI Research Laboratories, the VMI Foundation, the Dean’s Office, and the Academic Departments.