It wasn’t a typical summer vacation for students in the SETGO program. They spent 10 weeks in campus labs and at research sites conducting independent study on all manner of topics. Each received a $3,500 scholarship.
Jennifer Noland (right) discusses her analysis of data from a study of the movements of sport fish.
The 38 hard-working students, from BGSU and Owens Community College, shared the results of their studies Aug. 14 at the SETGO (Science, Engineering and Technology Gateway Ohio) poster presentation. In addition to faculty mentors, peers, families and friends, the session was attended by BGSU President Carol Cartwright and, from Owens, President Christa Adams and project co-director Dr. Anne Bullerjahn.
“You should congratulate yourselves for having the will to take this kind of time this summer and not to be on the beach but to work on something with long-term results,” Cartwright told the students, adding that their effort spoke of their commitment. “Not everyone gets the opportunity to do something like this. We congratulate you, and we need you,” she said.
Martez Mott, a senior computer science major from Detroit, said, “The research experience will help in grad school. I was able to get a feel for it before I go on.” Ultimately, he would like to do both teaching and research. Teaching, because “I like to help people, and research is really exciting. You’re always pushing the state of the art.”
Ashley Hannah, a BGSU senior from Macedonia, Ohio, majoring in pre-med biology, worked with SETGO co-director Dr. Moira van Staaden, biological sciences. They were engaged in a study of the sensory system of cichlids, looking at the fishes’ lateral line systems. “I did learn a lot. SETGO gave me the full opportunity to conduct research and learn more about science,” Hannah said.
For some, the research also revealed something about the bigger picture of evolution. Senior Brian Greer, from Akron, also a biology pre-med student, worked with Dr. Robert Huber, biology. Greer’s poster detailed the results of his teaching crayfish to self-administer amphetamine in a test of how strongly addictive the drug is in the crustaceans.
“No paradigms exist for this in drug research,” Greer said. That was the exciting part; the slow and painstaking process the work required was difficult, he recalled. “It teaches you to have patience,” he said. “But it’s worth it to prove that after 600 million years of evolution, we’re still connected to them in how our reward system functions.”
“When they run into trouble, that’s the best thing, that’s how they learn,” said Dr. Vipaporn Phuntumart, biology, who mentored three students this summer. “When you have a problem, you have to think harder, analyze it and learn how to solve it.”
In some cases, the students’ work also helped advance ongoing research by faculty, as in the contribution of senior Jennifer Noland to a project of Drs. Jeffrey Miner, biology, and John Farver, geology. Noland’s mathematical analysis of data (working with Dr. J. Gordon Wade, mathematics) on mineral deposits in fish skulls, which serve as chemical fingerprints, helped confirm that they reflect fishes’ place of origin, enabling the researchers to track their movements.
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