Undergraduate Researchers Present Work at Mid-SURE

Posted on: July 30, 2013

mid-sureStudents doing research in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences labs presented their work last week at the 2013 Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences (Mid-SURE) at the Breslin Center.

Mid-Sure provides students involved in research within any MSU research program and at select institutions in Michigan the chance to be evaluated and to share their work with peers, faculty and other audiences. The students present their posters, which offer a visual representation of their research through text, charts, graphs and other visual aids. Evaluators provide feedback in the following areas: introduction and goals, methods, results, conclusions and future work, poster presentation and verbal presentation.

In addition to the poster presentations, various graduate studies programs hosted booths at the Breslin Center at the same time to share research opportunities with prospective students. CAS had all six graduate programs represented.

Six students who are working in CAS labs this summer and with CAS instructors participated in the annual Mid-SURE event held July 24. Four of those students currently are working in the Behavior Information Technology (BIT) Lab, one works at a Communicative Sciences and Disorders lab, and another has done research for an Emmy award-winning documentary.

Tiara Marocco, a journalism senior, worked with Geri Alumit Zeldes, associate professor of journalism, doing research for the documentary, "U.S. v. Narciso, Perez & the Press," that recently won an Emmy award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The documentary focuses on the story of two Filipina nurses who were convicted in 1976, and then released in 1978, for poisoning patients at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. Marocco's research involved locating sources involved with the case and creating a social media presence for the documentary.

Kayla Tillman presented the work she is doing in associate professor Laura Dilley's Communicative Sciences and Disorders lab on how the pitch of a person's voice influences impressionistic judgments of other aspects of speech. Tillman received a $3,000 grant from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences for her research.

The four students working as summer interns in the BITLab who presented research include junior Katie Hoban; senior Nick Saxton, senior Ray Heldt, and senior Alexandra Hinck. The students are working with associate professor Rick Wash, assistant professor Emilee Rader and research associate Kami Vaniea.

Hoban, whose research focused on what experts want end users to know about computer security and how they convey this knowledge, said she hopes to some day work in international law with a focus on the Internet and technology.

"Working at the BITLab allows me to further my own understanding of the way the world interacts with technology, while simultaneously contributing to a knowledge base that others will use in the future," she said. "It's been a phenomenal experience. I never thought I would have a job like this before completing a degree. I'm working in a field I love, I get to make my own hours, and the ideas I discuss with others actually have an impact.

"One of the projects we're running, an analysis of the Indiegogo crowdfunding site, was started because of some preliminary data collection I did on my own volition, and I've only been here for the summer. The environment here really supports people making their own proposals, not just doing the assigned work, and even if you're an undergraduate."

Saxton presented research on "The unique challenges in developing software for collecting research data."

"Working in the BITLab is great. It's a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The BITLab mentors are very helpful and are committed to making sure that the undergraduate students working in the lab gain valuable experience in research. They are very understanding of what students are going through in terms of time management and workload," he said. "Many of the things I've had to do this summer in the BITLab I will most likely be doing for the rest of my career, even if I do not continue in research."

Heldt's research, which focused on the difficulties of tracking computer user passwords, showed the different mechanisms used to accurately track end-users' password behavior while respecting both their privacy and security.

"I learned new ways of doing algorithms and how important it is to document whatever work I do since others will probably need to use it later on, which is probably going to be applicable for other jobs I may end up having," he said.

Hinck said she decided to pursue this internship because she "found it interesting and thought it was important to get acquainted with an interdisciplinary lab." She presented research on how people think about computer security.

"It has been a lot of fun. I'm learning a whole lot and learning what not to do on a computer," she said. "They (BITLab faculty) are really encouraging and don't treat me as a student, but rather like a fellow researcher."

Mid-SURE is a collaborative effort between the Undergraduate Research Office, Graduate School's Summer Research Opportunities Program, College of Engineering's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action and the MSU Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health Researchers.

Check out the photo gallery of students, faculty and staff at the Mid-Sure event posted on the Facebook site.

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