EMU's Undergraduate Symposium to feature student research ranging from tarantulas and water quality to West Africa's challenges

by Pamela Young, Published March 26, 2012

Brian Fields is someone who actually likes scorpions. Not just special scorpions, but all scorpions.

Then there is his fellow biology student, Michael Kaminski. Kaminski has spent hours with a type a spider only its mother can love - the tarantula.

The two students are among 366 student researchers who will present their findings during Eastern Michigan University's 32nd Annual Undergraduate Symposium, Friday, March 30, 8:30 a.m. to 12:45, at EMU's Student Center.

The event, which features oral and poster presentations, is free and open to the public.

Fields will discuss his poster presentation on "The Metabolic Cost of Venom Regeneration in Juvenile Scorpions." In layman's terms, his research explores whether there is a trade-off between the metabolic cost of producing venom and the benefit of a potential meal.

Kaminski's poster presentation deals with the "Effects of Food Limitation on Locomotory Behavior in Tarantulas." Kaminski looked at how tarantulas move in response to a scarcity of prey.

The two students' faculty sponsor, Cara Shillington, is a renowned expert in spiders.

Traditionally, most U.S. undergraduates aren't exposed to actual research until graduate school. Eastern Michigan changed that by establishing the Symposium, one of only a few such events in the country. Nearly 200 faculty mentors worked closely with students to prepare for this year's event.  Research topics range from theatre and music to poetry and the sciences.

Among the presentations are:

  • "Interpreting Water and Water Creatures in Metal."
  • "Quadroon Balls in New Orleans during the 1800s."
  • "Challenges to West African Democracies: The Case of Niger, Nigeria and Togo."
  • "High Levels of Phosphorous in Ford Lake Provide Nutrients for Potentially Toxic Algae."
  • "Measurements of Air Quality on the EMU Campus."
  • "The Effects of Online Social Networks on Long-Distance Communication."
  • "EMU Planetarium Opening Simulation: Sound Design and Engineering."
  • Globalization: Is It Good, Bad or Just A Necessary Evil?"

The event concludes with a luncheon (invite-only) featuring keynote speaker and EMU alumnus Dale E. Heydlauff. 

Heydlauff is vice-president of corporate communications and president of the American Electric Power Foundation. He currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Michigan University Foundation, and was co-chair of the Foundation's "Invest. Inspire" comprehensive campaign.

For more information, go to http://www.emich.edu/symposium/index.html





Pamela Young

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