By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
Student researchers from departments across campus shared their work on March 15 as Montevallo’s Undergraduate Research Program hosted its 25th annual Undergraduate Research Day.
The event, hosted in Harman Hall, showcased the work of 22 students through two session of oral presentations and two sessions of poster presentations—where researchers presented a poster highlighting their research findings, speaking on them as well.
These students were mentored by 19 faculty advisors. Faculty advisors came from departments all around campus—from communications to theatre to psychology.
Junior biochemistry major Anna Katherine Eastman shared her research project entitled “No Longer Neglected” during the poster presentation portion of Undergraduate Research Day. Eastman worked with fellow student Riley Watkins on this project and was advised by chemistry professor Dr. Katherine Hayden.
The pair’s project aimed to devise a drug target to effectively treat the parasitic infection cryptosporidiosis—an infection that is particularly fatal to immunocompromised people.
Eastman said that working on an undergraduate research project helped her learn that “nothing ever really goes perfect.”
“You kind of have to devise a plan for when things don’t go as you expect, so I think that’s been really cool to experience,” she said, pointing towards an experience she and her research partner had where they had to repeat a process with an enzyme solution.
Eastman describe her experience sharing her work at Undergraduate Research Day positively, saying, “I think it’s cool to, like, show people the hard work that we do, like, behind the scenes.”
Junior exercise and nutrition science major Manuel Munoz also shared his research during the poster presentations. His project, entitled “The Effect of a High-Intensity Functional Training Warm-Up on Deadlift One-Repetition Maximum Performance,” was advised by exercise and nutrition science professor Dr. Curtis Fennell.
According to Munoz, his project studied participant as they performed a traditional warm-up, which included 15 minutes on a stationary bike, and a high-intensity functional training warm-up, which included 15 minutes on a stationary bike and additional exercises, in order to study the effects of the high-intensity warm-up.
Munoz shared that his experience conducting undergraduate research helped him gain more experience in his field that he wasn’t getting in his day-to-day classes.
“Undergraduate research, I think, has been very beneficial for me because it gets me more hands-on experience within my field and I don’t typically get to see this, like, on an everyday basis in a classroom, said Munoz. “So, it did give me, you know, a different experience. A more engaging experience as well.”
Munoz also said that getting to share his work at Undergraduate Research Day allowed him to share his love of exercise and nutrition science with others.
“Exercise and nutrition science, all of it, is a really big passion of mine. I really love sharing it with people who may not know so much about it or may not know so much about this specific topic,” he said, “But being able to share my work and just share exercise and nutrition science in general is just a big passion of mine. I really love being here, I’m having a great time.”
Chemistry professor Dr. Cindy Tidwell is the Undergraduate Research Program Coordinator. She describes participating in undergraduate research as, “the pinnacle in undergraduate education.”
“One of the reasons that I am so passionate about our Undergraduate Research Program is that I have seen in some of my students over the years a transformation that is undeniable when they do an undergraduate research project,” said Tidwell. “They use information and skills which they have been taught in their classes. When they apply that information and skills they have obtained and they discover something that has never before been known it is most exhilarating!”
Tidwell also says participating in Undergraduate Research Day is a valuable learning experience because gives students the opportunity to share their research findings with people outside their fields.
“Discussing the research that one does with someone in their own discipline is one thing but talking about your research with someone in a different area of study is something different entirely. For this reason, UR Day is not only a fun time for the student to share but an extraordinary learning experience as well,” said Tidwell.
Students interested in conducting undergraduate research can learn more about the process, including how to apply to conduct research, on Montevallo’s Undergraduate Reasearch website.
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.