Story by Mitchell Brown, for The Muleskinner
The Undergraduate Research program at UCM aims to help students engage in creative and research projects, including providing funding.
Darlene Ciraulo, associate professor of English and coordinator of Undergraduate Research, said students who qualify can receive up to $750 to cover expenses relating to research.
One student who has benefited from the Undergraduate Research program is Eva Gann, a junior biology major.
She described her experience as “awesome.” Her Undergraduate Research project was on snake hibernation. Her honors research project was on the growth of snakes and energetics.
Gann measured if the type of prey a snake consumes has an effect on the snake’s growth. She used three types of snake feed, rodents, small lizards and what she called “snake sausage,” which was a combination of chicken, beef and pork, on two types of snakes, King Snakes and Corn Snakes.
Gann said only the King Snakes would eat the multi-meat concoction. “King Snakes will eat anything,” Gann said, “King Snakes will eat other snakes.”
During this project, with the use of a bomb calorimeter, a device that measures the heat of combustion, Gann was able to measure how many calories were going in with the three types of food.
Gann said her decision to do research on snakes comes from a long time interest in reptiles, her main focus of study in biology, which is called herpetology. She said her brother used to raise pythons and attributes that as part of the reason she is so comfortable around snakes.
For Gann’s project on snakes and hibernation, she said she was awarded $800, which she used on a data logging device called a HOBO that was used to measure temperatures at a cave in Warrensburg at Pertle Springs.
Gann said participating in the Undergraduate Research program opens up more career opportunities for a student.
She said as result of the research she’s done, her findings will be published in three scientific journals. She said the rule of law in the sciences is “publish or perish.”
Charles Brock, a graduate assistant in both the computer science and math departments have also reaped the benefits of the Undergraduate Research program.
A trip to Boston to present his research findings was partially financed through the Undergraduate Research program.
Brock presented his research at the Boston Joint Mathematics Meeting last January. He said the benefit of participating went beyond the money allotted to him for travel expenses.
Brock said he benefited from meeting contacts in his field of study whom he otherwise wouldn’t have met. He also mentioned that his research in mathematics required use of some of the skills he gained from general education courses.
Brock said he had to utilize the skills he learned from required composition courses and public speaking. “My skills as both a writer, a mathematician and a public speaker were all improved through doing research,” Brock said.
Brock said presenting his findings at UCM’s annual Scholars Symposium tested his writing and linguistic abilities.
He said when getting ready to present, he had to make sure the language of his presentation would be understandable for the layperson, as well as math students and mathematicians.
Although Gann is a biology major and Brock’s focus of study is mathematics and computer science, both agree that Undergraduate Research is not only applicable to the hard sciences, but the program can also mesh with the social sciences and other academic disciplines.
Brock said the reason for the prevalent scientific focus with a lot of Undergraduate Research projects is because doing research is such an integral part of the hard sciences and the physical sciences.
Both Gann and Brock said they would recommend participating in Undergraduate Research to other students, regardless of someone’s major.
More information, including how to apply, can be found at www.ucmo.edu/undergradresearch.