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Experiencing research: Undergraduates set to present findings at annual CURO Symposium

Mar. 31, 2017



Writer: Stephanie Schupska, schupska@uga.edu

Contact: Martin Rogers, martyr@uga.edu


From spectator injuries at baseball games to invasive garlic mustard plants in forested areas, more than 550 University of Georgia undergraduates--including 22 ecology majors and 10 students from other disciplines mentored by ecology faculty--are gearing up to share their research findings at the annual CURO Symposium April 3-4 at the Classic Center in downtown Athens.

The 554 participants--presenting either as individuals and/or groups--mark a new high for the event hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and eclipse last year's record-breaking total by 146 students. 

The volume of undergraduates isn't the only number of note. This year marks the first that non-Honors Program students make up more than half of participants with 53 percent of the total.
CURO, administered by the Honors Program, was expanded to all undergraduates in 2010.

"It has been a great pleasure to observe the overall growth in student participation in the CURO Symposium over the past several years, especially with regard to non-Honors students," said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program. "Undergraduate research is a high-impact educational practice with a number of positive benefits that flow to both students and faculty members. UGA is proud to be a national leader in this area through CURO."

The Symposium opens April 3 at 11:15 a.m. and includes 224 presentations and 290 posters.

Michael Terns, Distinguished Research Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' biochemistry and molecular biology department, will deliver the keynote address on "CRISPR: From Basic Biology to Genome Editing Revolution" at 3:30 p.m. in Ballroom E. The poster session and reception will follow at 4:30 p.m.

Oral presentations will continue April 4 at 9:30 a.m. with the last session ending at 4:45 p.m.

"One reason the CURO Symposium has grown every year is that our faculty members understand the professional and personal growth that occurs when their students engage in this type of learning," said Martin Rogers, associate director of the Honors Program and CURO.

"Many students describe their CURO research as having a transformational effect on their education, and that experience pays dividends for our students as they enter the next steps in their professional and academic careers."

The annual Symposium gives UGA students the opportunity to present their projects to faculty, graduate students and peers. It is open to all undergraduates pursuing faculty-mentored research in any discipline.

Sydney-Alyce Bourget, a junior majoring in ecology, traveled to Massachusetts last summer to study garlic mustard, an invasive plant thriving at the edges of Harvard Forest. This is her second year presenting at the CURO Symposium.

"I've always had the desire to learn and investigate things, and UGA definitely solidified my passion for doing research and for learning," she said. "That's what I love about research-the desire to learn and to find out and understand what's happening in the world."

(See below for the complete list of ecology majors presenting talks or posters.)

Zack Flagel, a junior majoring in economics, is currently in his second semester studying abroad at the London School of Economics. He is returning to the U.S. during his spring break to present a legal analysis of spectator injury risk at Major League Baseball games.

"Almost everyone has been to a baseball game, but not many think of the legal consequences of getting hit by a foul ball," he said. "Doing legal research as an undergrad, especially before legal training, is difficult and unheard of. The structured system for undergraduate research at UGA has made it easier. The professors are here to help you."

The annual CURO Symposium is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the Office of Instruction, the Office of Research, the UGA Libraries and the Honors Program.

A UGA bus marked "Special" will provide transportation to the Classic Center, with stops at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Tate Student Center and the Arch.

As well as its annual Symposium, CURO offers coursework, support staff and information sessions on how to begin conducting research. In addition to $3,000 summer fellowship grants, students can apply for the CURO Research Assistantship, which provides $1,000 stipends to 500 undergraduates each year. Research through CURO fulfills the university's newly implemented experiential learning requirement.

For more information, visit curo.uga.edu/symposium.

2017 CURO Posters and Presentations by Ecology Students

Organic Fertilizer Improves Revegetation of Roadside Soils
Evan Barnard, Ramsey Scholar
Mentor: Dr. Nina Wurzburger, Odum School of Ecology
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session V: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Athena Breakout Room D


A Comparison of Functional and Fitness Traits of Alliaria petiolata along a Forest Gradient
Sydney-Alyce Bourget, CURO Honors Scholar, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. James E Byers, Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session II: 12:20-1:10 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room A


Effect of Prescribed Burning of Riparian Zones on Stream Hyphomycete Fungi Productivity
Sarah E Clement, CURO Summer Fellow
Mentor: Dr. Catherine Pringle, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #136

Predicting Oyster Larval Recruitment and Growth Using Cheaply Obtained, Remotely Sensed Data
John Coffin, CURO Summer Fellow
Mentor: Dr. James E Byers, Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session IV: 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room J


Mushroom Biochar: The Properties and Potential Applications of Novel Biochars Derived from Mushroom Fruiting Bodies
Jared Conner, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Valentine A Nzengung, Geology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session V: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Athena Breakout Room D


The Effect of Litter Leachate from Fresh Riparian Rhododendron Leaves on Microbial Respiration in Headwater Streams in the Southern Appalachians
Desirae Ann Dickerson, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Catherine Pringle, Odum School of Ecology
Poster # 137

Nitrogen Fixation of Biological Soil Crusts in Longleaf Pine Savannas Respond to Alterations in Precipitation Frequency
Sumaya El-Khalidi, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Nina Wurzburger, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #143

Effects of Acid Rain on Brassica rapa
Luke Gamblin, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Ford Ballantyne, Odum School of Ecology
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session VIII: 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room C


The Necessity for Ethics in Developing Adaptive Management Strategies for Water Scarcity
Taylor Alicia Hill, CURO Honors Scholar, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Don Nelson, Anthropology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Poster #71

Sensitivity of Heterotrophic Soil Respiration (HSR) to Temperature as Mediated by Mycorrhizal Fungi
Grace Anne Ingham, CURO Honors Scholar, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Nina Wurzburger, Odum School of Ecology
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session VIII: 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room C


Determining Reoccurring Tick and Tick-Borne Disease Associations with Mammal Hosts
Jenna Kay Lea, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Andrew W. Park, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Monday, April 3, Oral Session III: 1:25-2:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room I


Effect of Invasive Macroalgae Gracilaria vermiculophylla on Feeding Behavior of Callinectes sapidus
Katie Maddox, CURO Summer Fellow
Mentor: Dr. James E Byers, Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session II: 12:20-1:10 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room I


Local Perceptions of Wildlife in Samburu, Kenya
Erin Malsbury
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Poster #147

The Call of the Crypt Keeper: E.C. Influences in the Films of George A. Romero
Audrey Miller, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Christopher Sieving, Theatre and Film Studies, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session VI: 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room A


Comparing Activity Budgets between Adult and Juvenile Asian Elephants
Nam Money, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Poster #149

Discovery of Foliar Endophytic Nitrogen Fixation in Pinus palustris (Poster)
Kelsey Morton, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Nina Wurzburger, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #144

Exploring Uncertainty in Models of Mosquito Vector-Borne Disease
Jack Owen, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Courtney Murdock, Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine and Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session IV: 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room I


Identity, Cosmology, and Subsistence in Madagascar (Poster)
Rose Parham, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Bram Tucker, Anthropology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Poster #69

Do Changes in the Quality and Quantity of Leaf Litter Inputs Affect Growth Rates and Emergence of Stream Macroinvertebrate Consumers Following Reach-Scale Removal of Rhododendron?

Reed Peloquin, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Catherine Pringle, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #138

Parasite Infection, Group Size, and Feeding Behavior in Grant's Gazelle
Caroline Shearer, Foundation Fellow
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session VIII: 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room D


Studying the Effects of Valsartan on Daphnia magna

Alyson Ming Wright, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Ford Ballantyne, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #140

Off of the Vermetid Gastropod, Ceraesignum maximum, in Mo'orea, French Polynesia
Margaret Zacharias
Mentor: Dr. Craig W Osenberg, Odum School of Ecology
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session IX: 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room C

In addition, ten students from other units were mentored by Odum School faculty are presenting talks and posters. They are:

Chemical Weapons and the Legacy of War
Ali Elizabeth Anderson, CURO Honors Scholar, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. James W Porter, Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session I: 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room A


Testing Immune Function in Naked Mole Rats During Periods of Wound Healing
Madison Demetry
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Tuesday, April 4, Oral Session IX: 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room J


The Effect of Litter Leachate from Fresh Riparian Rhododendron Leaves on Microbial Respiration in Headwater Streams in the Southern Appalachians
Desirae Ann Dickerson, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Catherine Pringle, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #137

Vector-Borne Disease Forecasting
Mallory Jessica Harris, Foundation Fellow
Mentor: Dr. John M Drake, Ecology, Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session II: 12:20-1:10 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room B


Effect of Reproductive State on Parasite Infection in Wild Rodents
Soo Min Lee
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Poster #146

African Bush Rat Driven by Complement?

Isabella Mateu
Mentor: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine
Poster #148

Physiology into Our Current Understanding of Littoraria-Spartina Interactions within Southeastern US Salt Marshes
Hend Rasheed, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Craig W Osenberg, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #139

Studying Gene Flow in Boechera stricta to Understand the Impacts of Climate Change
Sunishka Thakur, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Jill Anderson, Genetics, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Odum School of Ecology
Monday, April 3, Oral Session III: 1:25-2:15 p.m.
Athena Breakout Room D


Effect of Various Threat Categories on the Spatial Clustering of Threatened Mammals

Sunishka Thakur, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. Patrick Stephens, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #145

Influence of Air Pollution and Socioeconomic Factors on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Siva Venkatachalam, CURO Research Assistant
Mentor: Dr. John L Gittleman, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #141

Mapping and Modeling Hotspots of Schistosomiasis
Joseph Walker
Mentor: Dr. John M Drake, Odum School of Ecology
Poster #142

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