Rensselaer Research Review Spring 2008
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2008 Undergraduate Research Forum
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Pictured (from left): Christopher Coates, James Rajotte, Elizabeth Martin, Megan Salt, Tim Heiman, Chris Zwolinski, Ashley Thomas

The 2008 Undergraduate Research Forum & Awards was held on March 21, naming three winners in each the applied and theoretical categories. Ashley Thomas and James Rajotte earned first place honors, and awards of $500 each. Second place winners won $250, and third place, $150.

38 projects were entered overall, by a total of 71 students from four out of five of the institute’s schools represented. The School of Science had the highest number of entries, with 22 projects, followed by the School of Engineering with eleven, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences with four, and the Lally School of Management and Technology with one.

Thomas, a senior in Mathematics won the applied category for her project on inverse problems in sonoelastography. The goal of her project was to recover the shear wave speed in a crawling wave experiment, because the crawling wave speed is not always a good indicator of tissue stiffness. Using an algorithm, she successfully recovered the shear wave speed given simulated crawling wave phase data.

Rajotte, a senior with duel majors in Biology and Science and Technology Studies, won the theoretical category for his project on determining which phosphoinositol lipids bind to septins. Lipids have been shown to bind to septin proteins in yeast and mammals and these lipid-septin interactions seem to play a role in fertility of the organisms.

Second place went to the team of Elizabeth Martin and Tim Heiman in the applied category. Martin, a junior in chemical engineering, and Heiman, a junior in mechanical engineering joined up to produce a polymer with embedded nickel nanocomplexes, to see if it improved the elasticity and magnetic properties of the polymer.

Second place in the theoretical category went to Chris Zwolinski, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. His project evaluated the effects of drug delivery applications on stem cell differentiation, potentially giving a new method to grow bone in vitro or even in vivo.

The team of Christopher Coates and Joe Magee won third place in the applied category, for their project on the design and construction of new generation, bio-inspired photovoltaics. Coates is a junior majoring in chemical engineering, and Magee is a senior majoring in chemistry.

And third place in the theoretical category went to Megan Salt, a senior majoring in biochemistry/biophysics, for her project titled, “The role of Rho Family GTPases in microtubal organization during epithelial polarization.”

Summaries of all the projects entered this year can be found at: http://www.eng.rpi.edu/urfa

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“2008 Undergraduate Research Forum”
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