Student researchers prepare for Summer Scholars Showcase
Posted on July 19, 2018
Researchers learn that you sometimes stumble upon findings.
Two students, Ruth Ott and Tyrese Lillard, participating in the Summer Scholars Showcase learned that lesson quickly.
Ott started down one path, hit a roadblock then switched gears to a project focused on conducting research on underrepresented groups. Lillard overheard a conversation with chemistry professor George McBane, introduced himself and landed a spot on McBane's research team.
Ott and Lillard will join 40 other students who will give oral or poster presentations at the Showcase on Tuesday, July 24, from 4-7 p.m. in the DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium. The showcase is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship; participating student researchers worked as Student Summer Scholars (S3), Library Scholars, Modified Student Summer Scholars (MS3), REACH Scholars or Beckman Scholars.
Ott, who is a double-major in political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, said her original thought was to pull pieces together for an archival exhibition of Michigan's LGBT history.
"There was not a ton of material out there, so I shifted my focus," said Ott, who is scheduled to graduate in December. She plans to give a presentation for the campus community in the fall semester about addressing barriers when conducting original research.
Ott is a Library Scholar and worked with mentors Leigh Rupinski and Emily Frigo from University Libraries. Using her background as a Knowledge Market research consultant, Ott's presentation will focus on looking beyond libraries while conducting research.
"Libraries and archives are useful but people shouldn't be afraid to dig into public records," she said.
Lillard is an Ott-Stiner Scholar who participated in the MS3 program, which provides opportunities for lower-division students to conduct research. A biomedical sciences major, Lillard said he attended the Undergraduate Research Fair last year and overheard McBane discussing his project with other students. "So, I joined in on the conversation and he asked if I wanted to join his research team," Lillard said.
Working with chemistry faculty mentors McBane and Stephanie Schaertel, Lillard is testing the molecular structure of carbon monoxide when it comes in contact with neon gas. The research will contribute to studies on how fast chemical processes occur.
Lillard graduated from East Kentwood High School and will enter his sophomore year this fall. "When I was in high school, I didn't realize research was such a big thing. It's great for Grand Valley to have a program to introduce students to research, then have the opportunity to work directly with professors," he said.
McBane said about half of his research students have taken one of his classes; Lillard did not but did exhibit the interest and enthusiasm McBane looks for.
"In the lab, students start out learning optics, vacuum techniques, electronic signal processing, and other technical stuff they would not have learned in the classroom," he said.
More information about the Summer Scholars Showcase is online.