This week, we caught up with seniors Ron Lewis (Chemical Engineering), Michael Rowley (Exercise Science and Biological Sciences) and Allison McCague (Cell and Molecular Biology & Genetics) as they work on their thesis projects!

K. Michael Rowley: “The Effect of Plantarflexion Angle on Landing Mechanics Using a Within-Subjects Real-TimeFeedback Protocol”

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UDHP: What most excites you about the research that you are doing?

KMR: Actually the most exciting part just happened three hours ago! I am currently in Singapore and just presented my research at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science conference. It has been really awesome to see the differences in landing mechanics between a group of controls and a group of dancers. There are some interesting differences in using the hip and ankle when landing with very pointed feet between the two populations. The presentation was received very well and other researchers had some great feedback for future directions and more variables to look at.

UDHP: What is the most challenging part of the research that you are doing?

KMR: The most challenging part is figuring out which variables are meaningful and which aren’t. There are SO many variables to look at between groups, between individuals, and between ankle angles of landing. Just some that we are considering are the peak force and the peak loading rate with which the subjects are hitting the ground, the joint moments in the hip, knee, and ankle at landing, and rotations at the hip, knee, and ankle both at initial contact and throughout the entire landing.

UDHP: What are you hoping to learn from writing a thesis?

KMR: I have already learned so much about how a research project gets from just an idea, to a specific question, to an actual method, through data analysis, and then drawn into some conclusions that give some information about that initial idea. It’s amazing how the data I collected and the questions I answered only led to more questions, which is why data analysis is still an evolving process as we think of more and more things to investigate.

UDHP: What are your plans for after graduation?

KMR: I plan to attend graduate school for biomechanics research in dance science, not sure where yet. Writing this thesis will give me a huge leg up when it comes to my first semester in graduate school. I will be able to jump right into research questions and thesis development.

Allison McCague: “The Role of N-Linked Glycosylation During Drosophila Development”

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UDHP: What most excites you about the research that you are doing?

AM: Probably the challenging genetics excite me the most. My project is stimulating intellectually, which I like. I like the fact that I’m applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to a project that has applications in the real world.

UDHP: What is the most challenging part of the research that you are doing?

AM: The most challenging part of the research I’m doing is probably all the roadblocks I’ve run into (especially in the past year). When things just don’t work right, it can be frustrating.

UDHP: What are you hoping to learn from writing a thesis?

AM: I’m primarily hoping to learn how to write scientifically. I’ve read many scientific publications in my college career, but I’ve never had to write anything more complicated than a lab report. A senior thesis will be the thing I write in my undergraduate career that will most resemble a bionafied scientific publication. And if I end up in the field I’m thinking I will end up in, that is a skill that will be absolutely essential.

UDHP:What are your plans for after graduation?

AM: I plan to attend graduate school and obtain a PhD in genetics. Undergraduate research and writing a thesis provide absolutely vital experiences that give me an idea of what it will be like to be a grad student.

Ron Lewis: “The Effect of Block Copolymer Thin Film Morphology on Stem Cell Differentiation”

UDHP: What most excites you about the research that you are doing?

RL: I am most excited by the idea that this is something that has never been done, and also by the fact that we are essentially going to try to use artificially generated materials to mimic the structures of the human body.

UDHP:  What is the most challenging part of the research that you are doing?

RL: The most challenging part of my research is that there seem to be so many factors that go into it. For my project, it’s nothing at all like putting an object into a machine and pressing a button. There’s quite a few things going on, and it is important to be extra careful at every step along the way.

UDHP: What are you hoping to learn from writing a thesis?

RL: I am expecting and certainly hoping that writing a thesis will increase my skill and knowledge of technical writing, research procedures, and the material I am studying, in general.

UDHP:What are your plans for after graduation?

RL: My plans after graduation are to attend graduate school. Since this path is a research intensive one, I expect that writing a thesis and performing research for it will help me prepare for what is ahead!

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Kelli Lynn Shermeyer

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