Showcase highlights student research

man on stage in front of screen
Brendan Kosnik gives a presentation on the effects of Hurricane Maria on plants in Puerto Rico.
Image Credit: Autumn Johnson
two women standing behind podium
At right is Susan Mendoza, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, with Ruth Ott, a Library Scholar.
Image Credit: Autumn Johnson
two women talking before poster
Safiya Best discusses her research on water quality at Pere Marquette beach in Muskegon.
Image Credit: Autumn Johnson
woman standing in front of poster
Kendra Garcia discusses her research about Afro-Mexican history.
Image Credit: Autumn Johnson

Despite the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, senior biology major Brendan Kosnik learned some of the island's trees and plants are very resilient.

Kosnik was among 30 undergraduate researchers who gave presentations July 24 at the Summer Scholars Showcase held in the DeVos Center.

Kosnik traveled to Puerto Rico to study the effects of the 2017 hurricane on epiphytic plants, plants such as vines that are attached to trees. He replicated a 2012 survey completed by his faculty mentor, Gary Greer, professor of biology, and studied trees and plants in the same area of a national forest.

Palm trees withstood the hurricane fairly well, Kosnik said, but he found 11 fewer species of epiphytes than what was recorded in 2012. "The canopy cover actually increased, but that was likely due to using different methodology," he said.

The student presenters represented four different programs sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship: Student Summer Scholars (S3), Library Scholars, Modified Student Summer Scholars (MS3), REACH Scholars and Beckman Scholars.

Within his opening remarks, Robert Smart, vice provost for research administration and executive director of the Center for Scholarly and Creative Research, told the audience they would be impressed with the high-quality research to come.

"Through their work with faculty mentors, these students are developing knowledge not found in a traditional classroom setting," Smart said.