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Fall Poster Session features student research projects

Sarah Porter presents her research at the third annual Fall Poster Session Nov. 19. (Photo by Anne Richoux)
Sarah Porter presents her research at the third annual Fall Poster Session Nov. 19. (Photo by Anne Richoux)

JACKSON, Tenn.Nov. 20, 2013 – Two dozen Union University students from three academic departments showcased their research projects Nov. 19 at the third annual Fall Poster Session.

The poster session was particularly designed for students who conducted research over the summer, said Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science and dean of instruction. The session also provides December graduate candidates an opportunity to present their research, as the Scholarship Symposium occurs during spring semesters.

“One thing we are starting to do at universities around the country is to emphasize undergraduate research alongside faculty research,” Baker said. “We (at Union) want to develop that fundamental skill in our graduates.”

Sarah Porter, a senior biology major with a concentration in zoology, worked with James Kerfoot, assistant professor of biology and Porter’s project mentor, to conduct research about fish.

Porter said she spent half a year researching her project, titled “Measuring the Stress Levels and Behavior of French Grunts (Haemulon flavoneatum) from Hatchery-Rearing to the Marketplace.” She chose to study how French Grunts, a tropical fish, reacted to stressful transportation situations by measuring their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone the fish release when upset.

“I definitely wanted to do research that involved animals, and I’m interested in animal behavior, which is influenced by hormones,” Porter said. “Dr. Kerfoot is very interested in fish, and he had been wanting to do a project where we measured the cortisol levels non-invasively. So, there was a link between both of our interests.”

Josh Brinkman, a senior cell and molecular biology major, began his research project more than a year ago. He said he has since learned a variety of new scientific techniques through his project, titled “Modification of Green Fluorescent Protein to Contain Affinity Tag Sites for Isolation and Purification.”

Brinkman may have completed his work for the poster session, but he said he plans to continue his research until graduation in May.

Students from the School of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy also presented during the poster session, with research ranging from art projects to rural medical studies.

“Learning how to conceive, design and carry out research is tremendously important for a wide variety of professions,” Baker said. “Even if you don’t perform research in the future, you need to be able to understand the research others have done.”

By Beth Knoll

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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