September 22, 2019 | 69° F

'‪Researchers Present' allows students to showcase research topics

Photo by Kush Oza |

Wise Young, distinguished professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, receives recognition following his keynote speech at ‘Researchers Present’ on Nov. 24 in the Busch Student Center. 

Research is important to advance human understanding, said Nevin Varghese, a School of Engineering senior.

Students from the School of Engineering gathered at the Busch Student Center Multipurpose Room last Monday for “Researchers Present,” an event organized by Theta Tau, the professional engineering-based fraternity.

The purpose of the event was to encourage undergraduate students to pursue research by explaining what the experience entailed, said Dominique Chapman, Theta Tau’s developmental chair.

The best presenter received a new iPad, she said.

Chapman said the purpose of the event was to inspire undergraduate students to pursue research by understanding the overall experience of what research is.

Vetri Velan, a School of Engineering senior, said research gave him firsthand insight into how physics can be applied to some of the world’s greatest problems. His research investigated the applications of nuclear fusion in solving global energy problems.

Fusion energy could be an important solution for sustainable energy, he said. Research into it is revolutionizing how scientists view energy.

Varghese said he arrived at his research position after encouragement from his sister.

“My sister pushed me to consider research,” he said. “As a senior in high school, I didn’t know the effect it would have on me, but I took her advice.”

His research involved the treatment of antibiotic resistant bacteria with synthesized liposomes, he said. Liposomal delivery could reduce some important side effects caused by medicines, increasing how efficient treatments were.

Ingrid Paredes, a School of Engineering senior, said she was interested in research as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math student, but did not know what sort of research engineers conducted prior to her involvement.

Paredes said she researched different methods of efficiently scaling a process typically used in petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries.

“What we’re trying to do is write an equation that will allow us to easily scale the process from a lab size reactor to a big, industrial one,” Paredes said. “[By] figuring out all the fundamentals of the process and getting that equation solved, we can cut the material and energy costs associated with the process.”

Sarah Libring, the winner of “Researchers Present,” said she exceeded her area of study by working across different fields.

Libring, a School of Engineering sophomore, said these fields range from energy to industry to medicine but are all related to engineering.

“To me, […] innovation in [biomedical engineering] is about being able to utilize many different fields of study and apply them to one, medically-related cause,” Libring said.

Her first research topic involved a technique called photocatalytic water splitting, she said. Sunlight was used as a catalyst to break water molecules.

The hydrogen reaped from this process can be used as a source of renewable energy, she said.

Her current research involves the aggregation of polymers in water, she said.

“By studying the effects of gradual changes to the simulation environment, we can gain a better understanding of polymers’ morphology and can better predict their reactions in future configurations,” she said.

Tande Mungwa

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