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Thursday, December 18, 2014


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Briggs students present at research forum




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Vladislav Jdanov, right, a freshman in the Lyman Briggs College, talks to chemistry associate professor Ryan Sweeder about styrene April 22, 2013, during the Lyman Briggs College Research Symposium. Styrene is a synthetic chemical used in the manufacture of plastics, rubber and resins.



A buzz of biology, chemistry and the environment began to fill Holmes Hall Monday afternoon as the first day of the Lyman Briggs College Research Symposium took full swing.

“In the room right now ­— the crowd, the buzz, the level of excitement about the science — that’s what’s so special about (the symposium),” said Lyman Briggs College Dean Elizabeth Simmons at a research poster presentation Monday.

At the seventh annual forum, which will last until Thursday evening, Lyman Briggs students are presenting their undergraduate research projects in the realms of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and the history, philosophy and sociology of science with poster and oral presentations. Monday and Tuesday evenings, some upper-level Lyman Briggs students will be eligible to win awards for their independent research projects.

The event is open to the public, and Simmons said it is a platform for students to research topics of their own interest and present them to students and members of the MSU community. She said students are learning skills they will one day use in the workforce.

For human biology freshman Allison Riley, participating in the symposium and being a student in the Lyman Briggs College gives her an upper-hand in her education. She said she is considering attending medical school to become a pediatrician.

Riley worked with a team of students and presented their oil spill research project, looking at how the spills are cleaned up and how they affect people including the effects of the BP oil spill, she said.

“(Many) regular classes don’t get to do this, it’s just lectures and exams,” she said. “This gave us more time to do other research and find other things that we’re interested in.”

Ryan Sweeder, an associate professor in chemistry, pioneered the event with a colleague seven years ago and said nearly every Lyman Briggs student will participate in the research symposium while in college.

Whether it be chemically mixing things in a lab or conducting literary research to find a scientific theme, different realms of research are a part of the Lyman Briggs curriculum, he said.

Sweeder said the skills of communicating and verbally presenting a project along with the scientific skills in conducting research are necessary facets many students might not recognize.

“Within the scientific community, it’s really important for us to communicate our research to other people, and this is one of the prime ways they actually do it,” he said. “I’ll get my students who then go off … and do a poster presentation and they’re like, ‘That was like the Briggs symposium.’”

Physiology freshman Jack Peleman conducted a project on acid rain with other students and said he is happy to practice speaking about his project, which he believes will give him an advantage.

“Even though we’re not like finding groundbreaking research, it’s just a good experience to start designing stuff,” he said. “It’s all about the experience of talking to people and communicating your points in a concise and clear manner.”


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