Exhibition is research central

Record number of student projects at SRCEE is evidence of CMU’s focus

| Author: ​Jeff Johnston

Research happens everywhere at Central Michigan University, but on a particular afternoon each year there's one place you're sure to find it.

Finch Fieldhouse on Wednesday hosted the 26th annual Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition (popularly pronounced "scree" for short). For planner Kara Owens, it was a creative endeavor just to find room for all 375 entries — a record number representing every CMU college.

"How did I fit them in? Very carefully," said Owens, coordinator of undergraduate and graduate programs in the research and graduate studies office. "We are full."

CMU Provost Michael Gealt checks out a SRCEE display.

Pride and presentations

For two hours Wednesday, Finch buzzed as student researchers described and demonstrated their work for peers, professors and even visiting parents walking the packed aisles of displays.

"CMU is proud of its long-standing tradition of involving both undergraduate and graduate students in the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of our outstanding faculty," said David Ash, Central's vice president of research and dean of graduate studies. "Clearly our students are producing work of the very highest quality, and the university community should be proud of their accomplishments."

Rob Linsley, a senior from Mason, Michigan, majoring in communication, presented his research into how people think about privacy and other issues when using social media.

"It made me reflect on my own social media use," he said of the project he worked on with faculty advisor Shelly Hinck. He also said the precision and attention to detail his research required will serve him well in future projects.

Research and graduate studies funds many of the students' projects on condition that they present at SRCEE. Owens said the research can make students better thinkers, writers and presenters — skills that give them an edge for careers or graduate school.

"The more experience they have with presenting and publishing, the better off they are," she said.

Standing out in the crowd

Several students are definitely better off for exhibiting at SRCEE: Each of the six academic colleges with undergraduate students selects up to two students to receive the $250 Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishments. From those, a committee selects up to three for the $500 President's Award.

President's Award winners:

Kathryn Arcy, senior

  • College: The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions.
  • Studying: Communication sciences and disorders.
  • Faculty advisor: Katie Strong.
  • SRCEE topic: Aphasia, the loss of the ability to understand or express speech. Arcy and her lab partners are working toward submitting their research to a peer-reviewed journal, and she also is leading a team on a new aphasia research project. Her next step will be continuing her research into communication disorders at the graduate level.

Steven Bailey Jr., senior

  • College: College of the Arts and Media.
  • Studying: Fine arts, with concentration in printmaking and sculpture.
  • Faculty advisor: Jeremy Davis.
  • SRCEE topic: Combining sculpture, drawing and printmaking in unexpected ways. Bailey has exhibited work in several places, including CMU's annual juried student exhibition.

Alicyn Stothard, senior

  • College: College of Science and Engineering.
  • Studying: Biochemistry.
  • Faculty advisor: Ben Swarts.
  • SRCEE topic: Research on a class of sugar molecules that have promising applications related to treating metabolic diseases, including diabetes. Stothard plans to continue her research in a doctoral program in 2020.

Owens said the wide range of SRCEE topics is intentional, demonstrating that not all research involves test tubes and white coats.

"Creative endeavors need to be hand in hand with lab research," she said.

Descriptions of all projects and a list of award winners are on the SRCEE website.

Research roundup

SRCEE isn't the only showcase for student research at CMU. Several colleges and departments have their own exhibitions, and research is a regular topic in CMU News. Here are 25 stories from the current academic year:

  • Nutrition knowledge: Dietetics majors research recommendations for food pantry patrons.
  • Top faculty research: Awards recognize faculty research in medicine, philosophy, music and more.
  • Child and maternal health: CMU joins a $160 million study on early medical care and wellness.
  • Advanced research tech: Cutting-edge tools prepare students for careers.
  • Fighting cancer: Students help study treatment with anti-inflammatory curcumin.
  • Patients in prison: A psychology student is CMU's first to receive a competitive prison research position.
  • High-tech art history: Modern methods help a faculty member bring ancient relics to life.
  • Water in the world: Interdisciplinary faculty have students study real-life problems.
  • Playing at history: To engage peers with the past, students study the effectiveness of games.
  • Alternative energy: A research team builds a machine that derives gas fuel from wood.
  • Perplexing pickles: Study explores the science behind relieving muscle cramps with pickle juice.
  • Overcoming opioids: Faculty member studies new ways for medical professionals to fight opioid addiction.
  • Treating ALS: Undergrads' egg research may have implications for ALS treatment.
  • Tools against tuberculosis: An international team fights a global killer.
  • Seeking an Alzheimer's cure: Funding backs a new research model.
  • Pulling the plug on Parkinson's: Research targets diseases' cellular power source.
  • Nuggets in data mines: Course teaches analytical research skills.
  • Taming temper tantrums: Faculty and students team up on managing challenging behavior.
  • Breast cancer treatment: Study looks at patient involvement in care decisions.
  • Great Lakes Science in Action: Annual symposium keeps focus on environmental research.
  • Shoring up shorelines: Student team studies benefits of lakefront cleanups.
  • Geology rock star: Faculty member makes a big impact by identifying a meteorite.
  • Experience runs deep: Opportunities lead student to top research sites.
  • Battling bullying: Faculty and students study ways peers can help victims.
  • Seeking life's origins: Top labs open doors to geochemistry student.
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