Tarleton announces research symposium winners

By Ashley Inge

Managing Editor

Tarleton State University held its 16th year of showcasing the Student Research and Creative Activities Symposium on Oct. 11 and 12 during Tarleton’s Research and Scholarship Appreciation Week from Oct. 8-12.

The symposium showcased the research and creative activities of more than 100 students. Included in the symposium were six graduate research oral presentations, 25 graduate research posters, 45 undergraduate research poster presentations, five First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) oral presentations, 12 undergraduate research oral presentations and nine entries in the Creative Activities category.

The winners of the symposium were announced in Tarleton’s press release on Oct. 19.

Creative Activities
First place (tie):
• Ethan CaldwellCivil Conflict, mentor: Dr. Andrew Stonerock
• Daniel Adame – The Art of Cinematic Comedy, mentor: Dr. Megan Ehrhart
Third place
• Justin Bartlett – TSU Street Beat, mentor: Dr. Ben Charles

First-Year Research Experience
First place: (tie)
• John Garcia – Masonry Insects at the Tarleton Permaculture Site, mentor: Dr. Barbara Bellows
Second place:
• Faith Cox, Melissa Hopkins, Jeff Brady and Dustin Edwards – Adaptive Multiplex Quantitative PCR for Identification and Quantification of Reticuloedotheliosis Virus, mentor: Dr. Dustin Edwards
Third place:
• Natalie Finn and W. Brandon Smith, Livestock Literacy: An Evaluation of Newspaper as an Inexpensive and Renewable Fiber Source for Ruminant Animals, mentor: Dr. W. Brandon Smith

Undergraduate Oral:
First place:
• Marysol Villeda and Randy McCamey – Use of Social Networking Sites for Recruiting and Selecting in the Hiring Process, mentor: Dr. Randy McCamey
Seond place:
• Clifford Curry – From Natural Law to Positive Law, mentor: Dr. Anne Egelston
Third place:
• Camille Trautman, Brittany Stewart, Faith Cox, Heidi Spann, Melissa Hopkins, Josh Katuri and Dustin Edwards – (REV)ised: a New Search for Reticuloendotheliosis Virus, mentor: Dr. Dustin Edwards

Marysol Villeda won first place with Randy McCamey in the Undergraduate Oral category for their Use of Social Networking Sites for Recruiting and Selecting in the Hiring Process.
Photo by Tarleton.edu

Marysol Villeda won first place with Randy McCamey in the Undergraduate Oral category for their Use of Social Networking Sites for Recruiting and Selecting in the Hiring Process. Villeda is a senior and is seeking a bachelor’s degree in human resource management.

“My research project consists of explaining several advantages and challenges of using social networking sites (social media) for recruiting and selecting in the hiring process. Through the analysis of academic journals, we found several benefits such as the ability to reduce both cost and time, ability to attract millennials and passive job candidates and the inclusion of job performance predictor. Challenges identified include legal issues, inability to attract a diverse pool of candidates and the lack of reliability and validity of SNS,” Villeda said.

Villeda said the most challenging part of the symposium “was standing in front of the judges and students and speaking. I believe I am a better writer than presenter.”

Villeda also said winning first place was unexpected.

“I was able to attend some of the other presentations and I believe they did an amazing job. Winning first place was a great honor and a validation of our hard work,” Villeda said.

Dr. Randy McCamey, the associate professor of management, was Villeda’s mentor and she said she believes she had the best mentor of all.

“He is so encouraging, supportive, and extremely knowledgeable. Dr. McCamey helped me through the whole process from guiding me during the research phase to formatting the presentation. Without him I would have never won first place,” Villeda said.

Undergraduate Poster:
First place:
• Kayli Colpitts, Tracy Brown, Cristian Botello, Kathryn Seymour and Amber Harris Bozer – Alpha Band Brain Activity in Chronic Pain and No Pain Groups, mentor: Dr. Amber Harris Bozer
Second place:
• Christine McCubbins and Victoria Chraibi – Taxonomic Description of a Rare Diatom, mentor: Dr. Victoria Chraibi
Third place:
• Genell Tantingco – Intermittent Hypoxic Conditioning: Potential Treatment for Ischemic Stroke, mentor: Dr. Myoung-Gwi Ryou

Graduate Oral:
First place:
• T. J. Garcia, J. P. Muir, K. A. Guay, J. A. Brady, and W. B. Smith – Reduce Reuse ReRumen: Variability in Nutritive Value of Paunch Manure, mentor: Dr. W. Brandon Smith
Second place:
• Kenneth Davis and Max Sanderford – The Role of Angiotensin II During Stepwise Hemorrhage in a Freshwater Channel Catfish (Ictalurus puntatus),mentor: Dr. Max G. Sanderford
Third place (tie):
• Kristen Bowman – The Effects of Semantic Relatedness on Concrete and Abstract Words, mentor: Dr. Tom Faulkenberry
• Abigail Christie, Kimberly Guay, Amber Harris Bozer, Jolena Waddell and Ryan Ridges – Circadian Rhythm of Intraocular Pressure in Minipigs: First Time Mapping of Rhythmicity and IOP Response to Light/Dark Cycle Reversal, mentor: Dr. Kimberly Guay

Taylor Garcia won first place with J. P. Muir, K. A. Guay, J. A. Brady and W. B. Smith in the Graduate Oral category with their topic Reduce Reuse ReRumen:

Taylor Garcia won first place with J. P. Muir, K. A. Guay, J. A. Brady and W. B. Smith in the Graduate Oral category with their topic Reduce Reuse ReRumen: Variability in Nutritive Value of Paunch Manure.
Photo by Tarleton.edu

Variability in Nutritive Value of Paunch Manure. Garcia is a graduate student majoring in animal science and veterinary technology.

“Our research was over examining ways to utilize paunch manure (a waste product collected at commercial abattoirs) in a ruminant’s diet, as well as preserving ruminal microbes for a later use. We conducted nutritive analyses on the solid material, and preserved the rumen fluid (lyophilized or frozen, with or without a preservative) and tested the preserved fluid as an inoculum source using in vitro true digestibility on five reference feedstuffs,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the most challenging part of symposium was “presenting in a conference room with two screens.”

“I found it very challenging to address the audience when you have multiple screens and people sitting on opposite sides of the room,” Garcia said.

Garcia said winning first place with her team was rewarding because of all of the work they put into conducting their experiment.

“From the other presentations I saw, everyone did great experiments and ‘suffered’ just like I did through my research trial. I am honored and blessed I was able to get first,” said Garcia.

Her mentor, Dr. Brandon Smith, assistant professor of animal science and veterinary technology helped Garcia with experimental design and helped analyze the data.

“He has provided me with guidance that has prepared me for a Ph.D. program that I am set to start in January 2019 at Oklahoma State University,” Garcia said.

“I thought the whole experience was great. I presented a poster and oral presentation. The competition was much fiercer in the poster session, but I thoroughly enjoyed both.  I would say I grew personally, as well as academically,” Garcia added.

Graduate Poster:
First place:
• Edward Smith and Sabrina Hetzel – Enigma: Breaking Down the German Encryption Machine, mentor: Dr. Scott Cook
Second place:
• Gabriel Wechter Nejad and Victoria Chraibi – Analyzing Multivariable Water Chemistry to Assess Water Quality of Reference Sites in Texas in Compliance with the National Rivers and Streams Assessment, mentor: Dr. Victoria Chraibi
Third place:
• Carrie Maryak – Novel Application of CRISPR-Cas12a DETECTR System to Water Quality Monitoring along the Texas Gulf Coast: An Improved, Rapid Method for the Early Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms in Aquatic Samples, mentors: Drs. Jeff Brady and Janice Speshock

Edward Smith won first place with Sabrina Hetzel in the Graduate Poster category with their topic Enigma: Breaking Down the German Encryption Machine.
Photo courtesy of tarleton.edu

Edward Smith won first place with Sabrina Hetzel in the Graduate Poster category with their topic Enigma: Breaking Down the German Encryption Machine. Smith is a graduate student with an emphasis in data mining.

“Our project was part of a study abroad class this summer, the class being Math in Times of War. We visited Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic to see some historical WW II sites. When we returned to the United States, we started working on the Enigma Machine and the history of breaking it. Both Sabrina and I have a strong Computer Science (CS) background – I double majored in CS as an undergrad here – so a topic like the Enigma Machine seemed like a good fit for our individual skill sets. I focused mainly on the mathematics behind actually breaking the Enigma Machine, while Sabrina developed a simulation of the Enigma Machine using Python. For my part of the project, I talked about how a mathematician used only mathematics to crack the Enigma Machine, something he was handed as a secret project in a cryptography class as a graduate student,” Smith said.

Smith said the hardest part of the symposium was transferring around 27 pages of abstract algebra that he wrote for his report onto his poster.

“I’ve presented research for more than three years now, so presenting comes naturally to me at this point, especially after teaching Basic Mathematics as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the past year and a half. But actually, getting our project into a format that we can easily explain in an elevator pitch was definitely challenging,” Smith said.

Dr. Scott Cook, assistant professor and math club advisor, was Smith and Hetzel’s mentor. Smith said Cook has been an amazing mentor for “not only this project, but for the past few years.”

“I’ve worked with him in graduate classes on projects before and his feedback was crucial in getting this project presentable. All of us were on campus the whole summer, so we would meet at least once a week to talk about our work on this project,” Smith said.

Smith said that winning first place was definitely an awesome moment.

“I wasn’t sure how something fairly abstract – permutations and abstract algebra in general – would be received, especially given how people sometimes see upper level mathematics and how they aren’t as readily applicable compared to lower level classes, but it was rewarding to see mathematics get some of the spotlight,” Smith said.

“I think it’s awesome that Tarleton is putting a bigger emphasis on student research in all fields, and having a place for students to present their research at their home to their peers is an incredible thing,” Smith added. “It’s not often that I get to leave the math building as a grad student, so getting a chance to see what people in the Science building are working on was a good thing.”

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