Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 8 coolest undergrad research projects at CofC right now

Cockroach senses, an open-source video game, and a mission to Venus

Posted by Paul Bowers on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM

click to enlarge How does this guy know when a human is approaching? CofC students are ON THE CASE.
  • How does this guy know when a human is approaching? CofC students are ON THE CASE.

Undergraduate students at the College of Charleston's School of Sciences & Mathematics presented 118 posters on a broad range of research projects today. We skimmed the list and found a few projects that piqued our interest.

The students presented their abstracts from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building (202 Calhoun St.). Unfortunately we found out about this late, and the posters won't be on display after today's event ends. For a complete list of poster abstracts, click here.

1. Ishtar Flagship Mission to Venus (Elliott Harrington, Angela Dapremont, and Winslow DiBona, Department of Geology & Environmental Geosciences)

"We will implement an orbiter, two atmospheric balloons, and one lander to study Venusian characteristics. The primary landing site is located in Ishtar Plateau where balloons will permit the study of surface and atmosphere interactions and present day atmospheric conditions."

2. The Explorer Project (Robert Bryant, James Carroll, Evan Kosin, and Diana Luu, Department of Computer Science)

"This project is an opportunity to start and grow an open source project centered around a video game that allows participants in the community to access a modular code base that is easy to extend." So ... the next Minecraft? Sign us up.

3. Patient Specific Induced Pluripotent Stem-cells for Geotrophic Atrophy (Jacquelyn Joseph, Linda Jones, and Mark Fields, Department of Physics and MUSC Storm Eye Institute)

This study aims to restore retinal function to patients with advanced age-related muscular degeneration (AMD). "Rather then use embryonic stem cells for cell replacement therapy, they are using induced pluripotent stem cells. The idea behind iPSCs is that they are not controversial, as embryonic stem cells are, and they are not foreign to the patient's body, avoiding the problem of implant rejection."

4. Stimulus velocity encoding by primary afferents in the wind-sensitive cercal systems of three cockroach species and the house cricket (Anne C. K. Olsen and Jeffrey D. Triblehorn, Department of Biology & Program in Neuroscience)

"Three species of cockroaches (Periplaneta americana, Gromphadorhina portentosa, and Blaberus craniifer) possess almost identical neuroanatomical makeups, but exhibit different escape responses to wind generated by a predator. These behavioral differences may result in different sensory processing of wind in these species."

5. The effect of topiramate on drinking behavior and brain ethanol concentrations in a binge-like model of alcohol consumption (C. Barrett Hawkins, William C. Griffin III, Marcelo F. Lopez, Howard L. Haun, Christina E. May, Lauryn Luderman, and Howard C. Becker, Department of Biology Program in Neuroscience with MUSC Department of Neurosciences, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, and Charleston Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs)

"In this study, we investigate topiramate, or Topamax, as a possible method to curb abusive alcohol consumption." We might know a few test subjects for this one ...

6. If Hugo Hit Today (Zak Bartholomew and Caitlin Simmons, Department of Anthropology & Sociology, Department of Geology & Environmental Geosciences)

"This study investigates the physical and social impacts to South Carolina's Lowcountry Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester region if a hurricane identical to Hugo were to make landfall today ... If Hurricane Hugo struck today, damages are estimated to be upwards of $7.1 billion."

7. Evidence of Anthropogenic Contamination in Shem Creek, SC (Katie Kerns, Sonja Tyson, Kyle Schultz, Kelsey Murdaugh, Barbara Beckingham, and Vijay Vulava, Department of Geology & Environmental Geosciences)

This study looks at the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon in sediments found around the creek, which is popular with boaters and tourists. The results are still being processed, so don't get too worked up yet.

8. The Batwing: The Catalyst Gotham Deserves (Carson W. Reed, Travis P. Varner, Richard A. Himes, and Justin K. Wyatt, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry)

We honestly have no idea what this one is about — something to do with a "novel bis-indenyl 'batwing' ligand metal complex" — but we really love the title.

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