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Multidisciplinary neuroscience scholar Samuel Vance showcases his research on age-related Alzheimer's disease during Research and Creative Achievement Week at ECU. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

SPOTLIGHT ON RESEARCH

Students shine during Research and Creative Achievement Week

April 6, 2017

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Scholarship is in the spotlight this week at East Carolina University as 426 undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars are presenting their research and creative work at Mendenhall Student Center.

It’s the 11th annual installment of ECU's Research & Creative Achievement Week, a forum to display discovery in biomedical sciences, business, education, engineering, the fine and performing arts, human health, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, technology and computer science, and visual art and design.

Industrial engineering technology seniors Tanner Garner and Lilly Tran were showing their project where they designed a system to route parts through the Linamar Forgings Carolina factory in Wilson. Linamar approached the department looking for designs, and ECU alumnus Elijah Stubbs sponsored the project.

Senior industrial engineering technology student Lilly Tran talks about her research Wednesday during Research and Creative Achievement Week. 


The Wilson factory manufactures steel gears used in automotive steering systems. A factory in Germany manufactures similar parts, and its system was the starting point for the students. Stubbs told them the company would use their system if it met specifications.

“We’re designing a brand new one here in the United States,” Garner said. “They need high output and lower cost. What they’re using in Germany is very expensive.” The students came up with a system that met Linamar’s requirements as well as its $1.2 million budget.

He and Tran said the project was a valuable and practical learning experience.

“It’s given us a lot of insight of what’s going to be available to use when (we) get out of college,” Garner said.

Junior biology major Brittany Dawes’ research looked at a corn mutation known as fuzzy tassel, which renders corn plants sterile and stunts their growth. Her research delved into the genetics of the plant and identified three transcription factors, or proteins, that convert DNA into RNA and could hold the key to what causes the mutation.

“When you’re doing it, you learn more,” Dawes said, comparing research to studying and lectures. “You understand it better.

“Genetics is a part of biology you really need hands-on experience to understand,” she added.

Tom McConnell, associate dean of the Graduate School and co-director of Research and Creative Achievement Week, said the week is one of the most anticipated on campus.

“The experience…it’s extremely well-received,” he said. “This is the single event that pulls together the entire university.”

The best among the student research projects and the Faculty Mentor Award recipients will be recognized during a Friday luncheon in the Mendenhall Great Rooms.

Additionally, faculty recipients of ECU’s annual research, creative activity and engagement awards will be recognized this week for their work.

They are Kyle Summers (biology) and Paul DeVita (kinesiology), who are each receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity; Amanda Ann Klein (English) and A.J. Jacobs (sociology), who are receiving Five-Year Achievement Awards for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity; and Jennifer McKinnon (history), who is receiving the Scholarship of Engagement Award.

More information about those awards and others is at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/Faculty-members-recognized.cfm.

The week also featured the Nile Project, a collection of artists from the 11 countries of the Nile basin who use music to draw attention to environmental, cultural and social issues connected to the world’s longest river.

Celia Donovan, an undergraduate graphic design student, created the cover design, poster and program art for the week. Physics doctoral student Taylor Dement developed and managed the abstract book.

More information, including a schedule of events, is at https://blog.ecu.edu/sites/rcaw.

Brittany Dawes, a junior majoring in biology, displays her poster detailing her research into a corn mutation called fuzzy tassel, or FZT, on Wednesday during Research and Creative Achievement Week. 

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