Undergraduate researchers, artists shine

Annual Research & Artistry Day spotlights more than 260 students

Undergraduate Research & Artistry DayStudents gathered Tuesday to showcase research projects that could someday lead to cleaner fuels, cures for cancer and perhaps even popularize an ancient South American musical instrument for modern audiences.

All were part of Northern Illinois University’s fourth annual Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day in the Duke Ellington Ballroom.

The event featured the work of more than 260 students drawn from 30 different majors and representing all six undergraduate colleges on campus.

All projects were conducted under the guidance of NIU professors, who introduced students to research procedures most students don’t learn until they move on to graduate school.

Many of those presenting were drawn from programs such as Research Rookies, Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research, and the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program. Other projects were done to fulfill senior capstone requirements or as part of an independent study program.

Undergraduate Research & Artistry DayRegardless of the path that led them to participating in the event, students said that becoming immersed in a rigorous academic research project was a beneficial experience.

“Initially I was intimidated by the thought of doing research, but now I’m very excited to see where this can take me,” said Lauren Sikes, a senior nursing major from Naperville. “This was just a literature review, but I see many more avenues for original research.”

Students were not the only ones to benefit from the experience, said Greg Beyer, a music professor who mentored percussion major Alexis Lamb, one of the first place winners. “It was an incredibly inspirational experience,” he said. “What I have received by sharing my work with Alex has outpaced my expectations by 100 fold.”

A panel of judges reviewed all 176 projects and selected winners, who received cash prizes. Judges selected winners in two categories – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; and Social Sciences, Health, Humanities and the Arts.

The winners were:

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Undergraduate Research & Artistry DayFirst Place (two-way tie)

  • Justin Durancik – Preventing Aflatoxin Production by Chemical Interference
  • Rick Jeswein – ISPF Inhibitors and Anti-Malarial Activity

Second Place

  • Brian Keefe – Microagle Grown in Wastewater as a Feedstock for Biodiesel
    • (Other author: Zach Davidson)

Third Place

  • Ryan Riddel – Mechatronic Suppression of a Parkinson Tremor

Honorable Mention

  • Taylor Nicholas – Evolution of Cereals to Predict Responses to Climate Change

Social Science, Health, Humanities Arts

First Place (three-way tie)

  • Carolina Gusciara – Comparative Analysis of HIV-2 Diagnostic Methods
  • Gim Reo – Is Mindfulness Associated with Distress Tolerance and Child Phsical Abuse Risk in a Sample of General Population Parents? (Other author: Regina Hiraoka)
  • Alexis Lamb – Descobertas por pau e pedra: An In-Depth Study of the Brazilian Berimbau, Its Traditional Applications, and Its Future in Contemporary Music

Undergraduate Research & Artistry DaySecond Place

  • Sarah Stuebing – New Faces: The Documentation and Analysis of Facial Expressions in Black Howler Monkeys

Third Place

  • Elliot Ihm – Reversing the Effects of Social Stress Through Environmental Enrichment and Exercise: An Animal Model.
    • (Other authors: Ashley Dotson, Nalini Jadia, Neal McNeal, Rachel Murphy, Rachel Schultz, Joshua Wardwell, Andrew Wegner and Angela J. Grippo)

Honorable Mention

  • Bryce Sommer – Types of Information Students Attend to When Writing Summaries of Scientific Research Articles

People’s Choice

  • Saba Hamid – A Comparative Analysis of the non-Enzymatic Glycation to the Bovine Lens: A Model to Probe the Structural Alterations of the Diabetic Lens
  • Natalie Cincotta – History and Photography: German Photos from the European Eastern Front of World War II (1939-1945)

Mentor of the Year

  • William Pitney, associate professor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

Celebrating Excellence logoThis event is part of Celebrating Excellence at NIU, scheduled from Sunday, April 14, through Sunday, April 28. Celebrating Excellence highlights the accomplishments and contributions of NIU students, faculty, staff and alumni to the university’s mission of promoting excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service during the academic year.

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