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Student researchers from University of Missouri-Kansas City present at Capitol

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Kelly Wiemann

April 04, 2017

Legislators learn about diverse student research conducted at all four UM System campuses

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Forty-two students representing the four campuses of the University of Missouri System participated in Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol today. The annual event gives students an opportunity to share with state elected officials the wide variety of undergraduate research and innovations taking place across the university system.  

“As the state’s only public research university, our students are provided unique opportunities to work alongside our talented faculty to conduct cutting-edge and groundbreaking research on our four campuses every day,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “These experiences, which range from science to medicine to the humanities, help to prepare our students for graduate and professional studies at prominent universities as well as careers in leading industries.”

The student researchers were selected in a competitive process to present their projects to Missouri’s elected officials. Among the 42 participants, 12 students represented the University of Missouri-Kansas City:

  • LeAnna Cates is a senior studying biology and bioinformatics at UMKC. Her presentation titled, “Mathematical Modeling of the Zika Virus Transmission Dynamics: Disease Characteristics & Prevention,” was completed with direction from Naveen K. Vaidya, assistant professor of mathematics. LeAnna is the daughter of Robert & Lynn Cates of Wildwood. 
  • Jacob Gurera is a senior studying psychology, sociology, political science and Spanish at UMKC. His presentation titled, “Locus of Control, Sleep Education and Psychophysiological Indices of Adaptability,” was completed under the guidance of Diane Filion, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Jacob is the son of William and Kelly Gurera of Kansas City.
  • Joe Haller is senior studying mechanical engineering at UMKC. His presentation titled, “Precision Aerial Delivery with a Steerable Cruciform Parachute,” was conducted under the guidance of Travis Fields, assistant professor of civil and mechanical engineering. Joe is the son of Dennis and Jackie Haller of Kearney.
  • Jorgue Martinez is a senior studying biology at UMKC. His presentation titled, “dFOXO Expression Under Starved State,” was completed under the direction of Leonard Dobens, professor of biology. Jorgue is the son of Jennifer Rose Orellana of Monett.
  • Stephanie Montoya is a senior studying business administration at UMKC. Her presentation, “Wage Justice,” looks into the issue of wage theft and was completed under the mentorship of Judith Ancel, director of the worker education and labor studies education program. Stephanie is the daughter of Miguel and Maria Montoya of Kansas City.
  • Ronald Morris is a senior studying mathematics and statistics at UMKC. His presentation titled, “Missouri Crop Loss Analysis Due to Late Spring Freeze,” was completed under the mentorship of Majid Bani-Yaghoub, assistant professor of applied mathematics.  Ronald is the son of Mike and Teresa Morris of Independence.
  • Scott Nickell is a senior studying computer science at UMKC. He co-authored the presentation, “Missouri Crop Loss Analysis Due to Late Spring Freeze,” under the direction of Majid Bani-Yaghoub, assistant professor of applied mathematics. Scott is the son of Misty Michael of Northmoor.
  • Monika Patel is a senior studying chemistry at UMKC. Her presentation titled, “Scale Up and Production Optimization for our Silorance-Based Bone Cement,” was completed under the direction of Kathleen Kilway, Curators’ Professor and chair of the department of chemistry. Monika is the daughter of Jashvant and Bhagvati Patel of Lexington.
  • Chelsea Pfaffly is a senior studying civil engineering at UMKC. Her presentation, “Acid Leaching of Pervious Concrete for Heavy Metals Recovery,” was completed under the guidance of Megan Hart, assistant professor of civil and mechanical engineering. Chelsea is the daughter of Jeff and Jayleen Pfaffly of Pleasant Valley.
  • Morgan Staudinger is senior studying chemistry and environmental science at UMKC. Her presentation, “Ribbon-like Molecules with Theoretical Interest,” was completed under the guidance of Kathleen Kilway, Curators’ Professor and chair of the department of chemistry. Morgan is the daughter of Robert and Janet Staudinger of Greenwood.
  • Ada Thapa is a senior studying biology at UMKC. Her presentation titled, “Identification of the Molecular Causes for Neurodegeneration,” was completed under the guidance of Ryan Mohan, assistant professor of biology. Ada is the daughter of Ajit and Beena Thapa of Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Tevin Williams is a senior studying business administration and music at UMKC. His presentation titled, “Fela and Today: Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce and Us,” was written under the direction of Andrew Granade, associate professor and chair of the department of composition, music theory, and musicology. Tevin is the son of Kimberly Reinke of Waynesville. 

In addition to UMKC students, 21 students from the University of Missouri-Columbia, seven from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and two from the University of Missouri-St. Louis represented the UM System. Each student had the opportunity to visit with their hometown legislators.

“Student engagement in research projects with faculty members at each of our campuses is a staple of the undergraduate academic experience and enhances student outcomes,” Bob Schwartz, interim UM System vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development said. “The experience 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 technologies and businesses, and improve the quality of life for Missourians.”

Students highlighted the broad spectrum of research conducted at across the UM System’s four campuses including research in the areas of education, health, agriculture, biotechnology, transportation and infrastructure, social services and economic development.

The UM System is one of the nation’s largest public research and doctoral level institutions with more nearly 76,000 students on four campuses.