UI Engineering Students Highlight Research March 9 at State Capitol

Monday, March 9, 2009

University of Iowa News Release

Photo: Ryan Gerling, a UI history and secondary education major who graduated in May 2008, speaks with Iowa Sen. Thomas Courtney at last year's "Research in the Capitol" event in Des Moines.

Innovative undergraduate research on everything from analysis of the sludge water and sediment from the floods of 2008 to a microwave rain gauge will be showcased by 60 undergraduate students from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

This research and much more will be on display during the fourth annual "Research in the Capitol," a special event Monday, March 9, at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

Twenty undergraduate students from each school will display posters in the first floor rotunda and speak with state lawmakers, members of the Iowa state 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 addressed the flood of 2008.

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

  • Timothy Mansheim, electrical engineering. Mansheim's project is "A Robust, Microwave Rain Gauge," and he is working with faculty mentor Anton Kruger from the electrical and computer engineering department.
  • Zachary Rodenburg, chemical engineering major. Rodenburg's project is "Analysis of the Pesticide Chlordane in Cedar Rapids Sediments Following the 2008 Flood," and he is working with faculty mentor Keri Hornbuckle from the civil and environmental engineering department.
  • Jess Smith, environmental engineering and studio art major. Smith's project is "Fragrance Compounds as Tracers of Sewage Sludge in Cedar Rapids Flood Waters," and she is working with faculty mentor Keri Hornbuckle from the civil and environmental engineering department.
  • Alexandra Keenan, biomedical engineering, biochemistry, and international studies major. Keenan's project is "Developing a Vaccine for a Deadly Parasitic Disease," and she is working with faculty mentor Mary Wilson from the internal medicine department in the UI Carver College of Medicine.

David Miles, president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will make opening remarks at 11:30 a.m. Representing the UI at the event will be Robert Kirby, director of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU). The event is open to the public.

"Research in the Capitol brings together undergraduates with legislators and members of the Board of Regents to discuss not only the outstanding creative projects students have been involved in but also the importance of these opportunities as they prepare for graduate and professional training," Kirby said. "While some discussion occurs of the research, the discussion frequently becomes a broader conversation on what the student hopes to do and how the experience has benefited them."

Kirby said more than 1,500 undergraduate students -- from art to engineering majors -- are involved in some aspect of research at the UI, many of them earning credit or getting paid for their work as research assistants.

He said students were selected for the March 9 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.