A Note from the Collaborative Director
Undergraduate Research: Adjusting to Life at a Liberal Arts College
2012-2013 McNair Scholars
Fall-Summer Collaborative Grants
- Kaela Gedda
- Jens Paasen
- Gretchen Panzer
- Hannah Schmitt
- Luanne Spence
- Sarah Titus
Collaborative Research Stories
May 4, 2012 Student Academic Travel Grant and Attendee Grant applications due
National Conference on Undergraduate Research
Reflection on NCUR Experience
My role in the conference was to represent St. Norbert
College, along with two other students, in a student conference of 3,150. I
interacted with both students and faculty as I presented my poster from 11:40 a.m.
– 1 p.m. on Thursday. During that period, I spoke with roughly 20 individuals,
explaining and answering questions about my topic. I believe that I connected
with individuals that had past knowledge of the topic and individuals that did
not, based on the varying lines of questioning.
The conversation and feedback made me think about the
direction that the project will go next: I will not be working on it, but I am
more eager to converse about it with my adviser. Furthermore, I’m a little sad
that I will not be going to another conference with this work. I put up my
poster feeling uneasy about presenting, but by the end, I found that time had
flown and I was actually reluctant quit. I think that NCUR was a wonderful
opportunity for an inexperienced student like myself to learn both how to
present and about the vast amount of undergraduate research being done on
various topics. I hope that students next year and beyond take advantage of the
wonderful opportunity I was afforded. Equally exciting was the discovery that
the three students sent from St. Norbert seemed to be on equal footing in
project type and quality as many larger universities present.
lab looks at the effect of hormones on the brain. I have worked under the
instruction of Dr. David Bailey since 2010, and our project examines the effect
of stress hormones on memory. Previous studies have shown that long-term stress
is detrimental to memory, but short-term stress can actually have a positive
effect on memory. We use the zebra finch as a model system, and the hormone
corticosterone to provide artificial stress. Previous studies in our lab showed
a seven day exposure to corticosterone in the brain leads to heightened levels
of calbindin, a protein that appears in high concentration when the brain is
injured and provides some protection. When the study was repeated, the cell
structure and the animals’ behavior were not consistent with what was expected.
Two additional studies were then carried out to look at short-term stress. In
these, we looked at behavior, calbindin, and ZENK, a marker for cell activity.
Behavior was tested using spatial memory techniques. Data from these trials
showed an increased ability to learn as well as increased ZENK in animals that
received corticosterone treatment.