Engineering Undergraduates Share Research in Des Moines

Monday, March 21, 2011

More than 60 undergraduate students from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa will showcase innovative undergraduate research on everything from the benefits of diverse biofuel crop plots on butterfly populations to the relationship between infant emotionality to behavioral problems in childhood.

This research and much more will be on display during the six annual "Research in the Capitol" from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. This year's theme is "Research for a Healthy Iowa."

Students from each university will display posters in the first floor rotunda and speak with state lawmakers, members of the Iowa Board of Regents and other visitors about the undergraduate research they have conducted and its potential impact on their education, careers and Iowa. Selection of presenters for this year included a special focus on projects that promote healthy living.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will make opening remarks at 11:30 a.m. and Robert Kirby, director of the UI Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU), and Lindsey Knake, biomedical engineering major, will represent the UI at the event, which is free and open to the public.

"Our state universities proved wonderful educational opportunities that start in the classroom and, for many students, continue through research training working with our world-renowned faculty," Kirby said. "At the UI, that includes opportunities to improve the health of Iowans while working in the Carver College of Medicine, the College of Public Health and the State Hygienic Laboratory, just to name a few examples.  Such experiences solidify the career goals of our students and prepare them to be the health care professionals we need for the future." 

Kirby added that nearly a third of the UI undergraduates -- from art to engineering majors -- are involved in research at the UI by the time they graduate, with many of them earning credit or getting paid for their work as research assistants. He said students were selected for the March 22 event based on applications at each school and the undergraduate research project.

Event sponsors include ICRU, the UI Honors Program, Iowa State University Honors Program and University of Northern Iowa Honors Program.

For more information on each project, visit

UI engineering students taking part in the event (listed by hometown, name, major, title of poster and name of mentor, mentor department and mentor college) are:

Bellevue: Lindsey Knake, biomedical engineering. Knake's project is "New Capabilities for Vison-based Posture Prediction." She is working with faculty mentor Tim Marler from the UI Mechanical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering.

Independence: Brianne O'Loughlin, mechanical engineering. O'Loughlin's project is "Winter Term India." She is working with faculty mentor R. Rajagopal from the UI Geography Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Mason City: Paul Haugen, computer engineering. Haugen's project is "Matlab-based Nanoscale Device Characterization." He is working with faculty mentor Hassan Raza from the UI Computer Engineering Department in the College of Engineering.

For a complete listing of University of Iowa students presenting in Des Moines, go to