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Cross Discipline Participation in Inaugural Research Day

May 6, 2003

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Tanya Do.

Tanya Do. (Download print-quality image)

Sue Martinelli and Jessica Harriger.

(L-R) Sue Martinelli (philosophy) and Jessica Harriger. (Download print-quality image)

Angela Hutti and Tom Williams.

(L-R) Angela Hutti and Tom Williams (geography). (Download print-quality image)

Amber Thiele .

Amber Thiele. (Download print-quality image)

Amanda Coggeshall and Kaleena Otey.

(L-R) Amanda Coggeshall and Kaleena Otey (women's studies). (Download print-quality image)

Jason Orris.

Jason Orris. (Download print-quality image)

Alex Gillet, Kristine Kelly, and Katerina Koscova.

(L-R) Alex Gillet, Kristine Kelly (psychology), and Katerina Koscova. (Download print-quality image)

MACOMB, IL - - Nearly 60 Western Illinois University students representing a dozen academic disciplines recently participated in the inaugural Undergraduate Research Day, "Partnerships in Research," hosted by Western's Illinois Centennial Honors College.

The students, who worked with 27 professors in the faculty-directed projects, presented their research activities at a poster session open to the campus community. Presentations were made in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, geography, geology, agriculture, philosophy, psychology, history, women's studies and recreation, park and tourism administration.

Among the presenters was senior biology major Tanya Do (pronounced TANyah Dough), from Keokuk, IA, presented "Profiling the Stress Response of Arabidopsis Using Green Fluorescent Protein: A Prelude to a Flight Experience," sponsored by biology Professor Thomas Alton. She began the study last summer of how stress affects plants at the NASA Spaceflight and Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) at the Kennedy Space Center. Do was among 30 collegians from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico to be accepted in the elite six-week course, "Special Problems in Environmental, Spaceflight and Life Sciences."

"This was definitely the most rewarding experience I've been involved in," Do said. "It was life-changing for me personally, because now I have a greater interest in space and research."

Do, who had been set on a career as a medical doctor, will head to Arizona State University this fall to being a doctorate in microbiology with astrobiology research. She has secured funding to work this summer with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) microbiology researcher in Philadelphia. She may also have the opportunity to return to the Kennedy Space Center program this summer with her USDA mentor, who is an invited presenter.

Freshman Jessica Harriger from Urbana, a business economics major with minors in ethics and music, presented her research on the controversial issue of euthanasia. With guidance from Susan Martinelli-Fernandez, an associate professor of philosophy, Harriger examined the positions taken by U.S. Supreme Court Justices in the landmark 1990 right-to-die case of Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health and the "liberty interest" issue presented by six philosophers in "The Philosophers' Brief" (New York Review of Books, 1997). Harriger's initial thesis was that these decisions could be understood as exhibiting certain kinds of moral reasoning.

Harriger, who has an interest in pursing a law degree and potentially working in a business analysis position, said she found it interesting analyzing the judges reasoning based on the ethical theories of philosophers Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill.

"Although an agreement was reached to affirm the Missouri Supreme court findings, there were many different viewpoints and methods of reasoning amongst the judges," Harriger said. "Even though several judges used the same moral theories in the decisions, they still vary greatly as Kant and Mill are so broad that the reasoning within each kind of theory is open to disagreement."

"Opportunities to work on a one-to-one basis on Honor projects with bright, talented students such as Jessica are wonderful ways to make a direct impact on young scholars' lives," said Martinelli. "Jessica and I will continue with this research next fall."

More than 20 research papers in biology, chemistry and physics were presented. Seventeen psychology-based papers were presented, of which six were sponsored by Associate Professor Kristine Kelly.

A few other research posters presented include:

Angela Hutti, a senior from Glen Carbon, researched "The Great Flood of '93" with faculty mentor Thomas Williams, associate professor of geography.

Amber Thiele, a senior from Champaign, researched Anna Mae Pictou Aquash." Thiele's faculty sponsor was Virginia Jelatis, assistant professor of history.

Amanda Coggeshall, a senior communication major from Golden, and Kaleena Otey, a freshman general studies major from Colchester, and four classmates in the "Feminist Theory and Practice" class taught by Lori Baker-Sperry, Women's Studies assistant professor, presented "Women's in Advertising – Body Image."

Jason Orris, a junior physics major from Macomb, researched "The Effects of Chromium Concentration on Heat-Treated Steel Torque Transducer Shafts" with faculty sponsor Mark Boley, physics professor.

Alex Gillet, a senior psychology major from Geneseo, and Katerina Koscova, a sophomore psychology major from Blandinsville, are pictured with their faculty sponsor Kristine Kelly, associate professor of psychology. Gillet's study was "The Effects of Self-Awareness on Self-Control Mechanisms." Koscova's study was "Forgiveness and Self-Regulation." Koscova also presented ""The Dual Pathway Theory of Reading," with faculty mentor Raymond Majeres, psychology professor.

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