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Student researchers from St. Louis area present at Capitol

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Christian Basi

March 10, 2015

Legislators learn about diverse research at all four University of Missouri campuses

Photo: Marcos Barcellona, Johathan Roth, April Byrd, Lauren Kroenung, Sahitya Injamuri, Dennis Zhu, Alexandra Slimmer. Not Pictured: Rachel Becknell, Katherine Wilsdon.

Photo (Left to Right): Marcos Barcellona, Johathan Roth, April Byrd, Lauren Kroenung, Sahitya Injamuri, Dennis Zhu, Alexandra Slimmer. Not Pictured: Rachel Becknell, Katherine Wilsdon.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Some of the state’s most remarkable students gathered March 10 for the University of Missouri System’s annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City. Nine St. Louis area students were among the participants who presented research posters:

Marcos Barcellona of Chesterfield, Missouri, a senior majoring in bioengineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia presented "Polyampholyte Hydrogels as Drug Delivery Scaffolds" under the direction of Dr. Matthew Bernards, assistant professor of chemical engineering. Barcellona is the son of Omar Barcellona and Ileana Rafine of Chesterfield, Missouri.

Rachel Becknell of Ballwin, Missouri, a senior majoring in biology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis presented "Simulating Natural Light Environments to Examine Ecological Reference Conditions and Niche Conservation for the Federally Endangered Astragalus Bibullatus" under the direction of Dr. Peter Stevens, professor of biology. Becknell is the daughter of Randy and Margie Becknell of Ballwin, Missouri.

April Byrd of Ballwin, Missouri, a senior majoring in elementary education at the University of Missouri-Columbia presented "Fostering Student Growth in Writing by Acknowledging the Discrepancies Among Gender, Socioeconomic Status and Ethnicity" under the direction of Dr. Erica Lembke, associate professor of special education. Byrd is the daughter of William Scott and Robyn Sue Byrd of Ballwin, Missouri.

Sahitya Injamuri of Ballwin, Missouri, a senior majoring in biological sciences at Missouri University of Science and Technology presented "Simulated Shielding Methods for RF Analog Circuits in LCP Packages" under the direction of Dr. Matthew Thimgan, assistant professor of biological sciences. Injamuri is the daughter of Sudhakar and Vijayalaxmi Injamuri of Ballwin, Missouri.

Lauren Kroenung of St. Louis, Missouri, a senior majoring in computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology presented "General Thermodynamic Modeling of Gasification of Diverse Biomasses" under the direction of Dr. Daniel Tauritz, associate professor of computer science. Kroenung is the daughter of Dennis and Jan Kroenung of St. Louis, Missouri.

Jonathan Roth of University City, Missouri, a junior majoring in nuclear engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology presented "The Role of Soil Bacteria in Phytoremediation of Contaminated Soils" under the direction of Dr. Hyoung Koo Lee, chair and associate professor of nuclear engineering. Roth is the son of Gerald and Judy Roth of University City, Missouri.

Alexandra Slimmer of Wildwood, Missouri, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology presented "Characterization of Acidophilic Microorganisms in Red Lake" under the direction of Dr. Muthanna Al-Dahhan, chair and professor of chemical and biochemical engineering. Slimmer is the daughter of Randy and Brenda Slimmer of Wildwood, Missouri.

Katherine Wilsdon of St. Louis, Missouri, a senior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia presented "RNA Drugs that Block Several Strains of HIV" under the direction of Dr. Donald Burke, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology. Wilsdon is the daughter of Tom and Ellen Wilsdon of Saint Louis, Missouri.

Dennis Zhu of Chesterfield, Missouri, a senior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia presented "New tassel-less mutants with defects in vegetative and reproductive development in maize" under the direction of Dr. Paula McSteen, associate professor of biological sciences. Zhu is the son of Yimin Zhu and Ce Wang of Chesterfield, Missouri.   

In total, 59 students from the university’s four campuses discussed their work with senators, representatives and other visitors. Each student was selected in a competitive process and recommended by his or her campus, including 30 from the MU campus; 10 from UMKC; 16 from Missouri S&T; and three from UMSL. The students shared their research from a variety of disciplines including criminology, biology, education, engineering, and political science.

“Research has been fundamental to the University of Missouri since it became a land-grant university more than 150 years ago,” Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Research and Economic Development Hank Foley said. “Research exposes students to the wonders and possibilities of research and innovation, and helps develop them as future scientists and entrepreneurs whose discoveries could result in new businesses and jobs, and improve the quality of life for Missourians.”

With research core to its mission, the UM System accounts for 96.9 percent of all research conducted by public universities in Missouri.

“No other public higher education institution in the state provides undergraduate students with the breadth and depth of research opportunities as the UM System,” Vice President for University Relations Steve Knorr said. “Giving our students an opportunity to showcase their work at the state Capitol with their own hometown legislators spreads the value message for higher education on a greater level.”

The UM System is one of the nation’s largest public research and doctoral level institutions with more than 77,000 students on four campuses and an extension program with activities in every county of the state.

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