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MTSU kudzu, ginseng, volcano researchers show work...

MTSU kudzu, ginseng, volcano researchers show work at state Capitol

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The seven Middle Tennessee State University undergraduate students’ research topics ranged from kudzu to ginseng to volcanoes.

Fifty-five other state university students joined MTSU with their own varieties of research subjects at the annual Posters at the Capitol at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville Tuesday, Feb. 26, showcasing their work to legislators and others.

Other participating universities included Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, UT Knoxville and UT Martin.

Joseph Gulizia, left, discusses his kudzu research project Feb. 26 with MTSU professor Charlie Baum, who is a freshman legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives, at the state Capitol during Posters at the Capitol. Gulizia, who is from Fairview, Tenn., is an animal science major in the School of Agriculture. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Joseph Gulizia, left, discusses his kudzu research project Feb. 26 with MTSU professor Charlie Baum, who is a freshman legislator in the Tennessee House of Representatives, at the state Capitol during Posters at the Capitol. Gulizia, who is from Fairview, Tenn., is an animal science major in the School of Agriculture. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

It marked the first time for Greg Rushton, the new director of the MTSU Tennessee STEM Education Center, attended the posters event. He called it “a fantastic day.”

“It’s exciting to share the impressive contributions to our understanding of the social, literary and natural world with our state representatives and senators during this event,” Rushton said.

“The quality of the work being carried out by undergraduates at our coalition institutions and the confidence and passion the students express about their projects speaks highly of the experiences provided to them by their faculty mentors.”

Abigail “Gail” Choisser, an MTSU senior geosciences major from Murfreesboro, studied different science-related aspects of the Mt. Hood volcano in Oregon.

“This study examines the relationships between density, viscosity, chemical composition, mineralogical content and percent of the degree of structural order in intermediate magmas (molten or semi-molten natural material) at the Mt. Hood Volcano in the Cascade Range,” Choisser said in her project summary. Department of Geosciences chair Warner Cribb is her mentor.

Mineralology specializes in the study of minerals’ distribution, identification and properties.

MTSU undergraduate researchers walk down the tunnel at state Capitol.

MTSU undergraduate researchers Kaylee Lindgren, left, Tessa Antonelli, Hannah Hall, Sabrina Spicer and Joseph Gulizia walk down the tunnel in the Cordell Hull Building at the Tennessee State Capitol Feb. 26 during Posters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Jamie Burriss)

Other MTSU undergraduate researchers selected for the capitol event included:

Tessa Antonelli, a senior history major from Murfreesboro who studied American serial killers in the 1970s. Her mentor is assistant professor Molly Taylor-Polesky.

Caldwell “Cal” Charlet, a senior fermentation science major from Nashville, Tennessee, who explored a specialized area of ginseng. His faculty mentor is School of Agriculture assistant professor Seockmo Ku.

Joseph Gulizia, a senior agriculture major from Fairview, Tennessee, who studied early and late season kudzu leaves during different growing seasons. His mentor is agriculture professor Kevin Downs.

Hanna Hall, a senior biology major from Murfreesboro who investigated the Norton/Cynthiana variety of grapes. Her mentor is professor John Dubois.

Haylee Lindgren, a social work major whose research involved service dogs in the classroom for children with autism. Her mentor is assistant professor Nikki Jones.

Sabrina Spicer, a senior chemistry major from Murfreesboro whose research team identified the tripeptoid molecule, which has the potential to fight fungal infections that are particularly dangerous to immuno-compromised people. Her mentors are chemistry assistant professor Kevin Bicker and biology assistant professor Erin McClelland.

Gulizia said conclusive data made his project a successful research effort.

“A challenge I faced was not knowing proper techniques to utilize while conducting research,” he added. “There was a deep gap in knowledge regarding correct techniques (that) Dr. Downs helped me address, allowing me to continue my research independently.”

MTSU 2018-19 Faculty Senate president and history professor Pippa Holloway, who attended the event to show her support, said the Posters at the Capitol “showcases the exciting research being done by MTSU undergraduates under the guidance of MTSU faculty.”

“For undergraduate students at MTSU, the university experience involves learning from professors who are nationally and internationally known for their professional expertise, research and creative works,” she added. “Teaching involves not just imparting knowledge but involving students in faculty projects so that they learn to think critically, analyze data, generate their own creative projects and communicate the results of research.”

Tessa Antonelli and Pippa Holloway

MTSU history professor and 2018-19 Faculty Senate President Pippa Holloway, right, looks at MTSU senior history major Tessa Antonelli’s research on 1970s U.S. serial killers Feb. 26 during the annual Posters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., at the Tennessee State Capitol. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Holloway said she and others who attended “saw some of the results of faculty mentorship of undergraduate research on display at this event, and I was impressed by the quality of the research as well as the poise with which MTSU students interacted with visitors to the exhibit.”

John Hood, director of government and community affairs at MTSU as well as a university alumnus and former member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, once again attended the event. He talked with students about their posters and visited with Randy Boyd, the first-year UT-Knoxville president.

MTSU students also met Jones College of Business finance professor Charlie Baum at the Capitol. Baum is in his second month as a member of the state House of Representatives after he was elected in November.

“MTSU students are conducting some amazing research in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and will make a real difference in our community and state following graduation,” Baum said.

Before heading back to Murfreesboro, the students posed for a group photo with their peers, then met with state Sen. Dawn White, an alumna of the Class of 2002.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Posters at the Capitol group photo

Including MTSU, nine Tennessee universities sent more than 60 undergraduate researchers to Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 26 for the annual Posters at the Capitol at the Tennessee State Capitol. The students presented their posters, discussed their research and met state legislators. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

MTSU at 2019 Posters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn.

MTSU selected seven undergraduate researchers to participate in the 2019 Posters at the Capitol alongside students from eight other state universities Feb. 26 in Nashville, Tenn. MTSU participants included Kaylee Lindgren, shown at left in the front row, and Hannah Hall; from left on the second row, Greg Rushton, Gail Choisser, Tessa Antonelli and Joseph Gulizia; and Sabrina Spicer, Jamie Burriss and Cal Charlet on the third row. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)


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