CHADRON – Fruit fly concussions, Mars rocks, and the brain wave patterns of people playing online games were among the research subjects investigated by Chadron State College students this year.
Six CSC science students and two from the education department were accompanied by faculty members Dr. Ann Buchmann, Dr. Mike Leite and Dr. Johnica Morrow to Nebraska Wesleyan University, where they described their work at the 128th Annual Nebraska Academy of Sciences Conference April 20 in Lincoln.
Attending the NAS conference is an annual event for science students from Chadron State, and this year’s presentations were top notch, according to Buchmann.
“The students seemed to have learned a lot from their research,” she said. “I was impressed at their drive and ambition.”
The students attending the conference were: Gabrielle Brumfield of Madison, Ind., Shyanna Neu of Pueblo, Colo., Kinsley Mason of Loveland, Colo., Brittany Soukup of O’Neill, Neb., and Wacey Gallegos of Ainsworth, Neb., from the biology department, Geoscience’s Miles Chasek of Chadron, and Rebecca Kraxberger of Hugo, Colo., and Jolee Smith of Pierre, S.D., from the education department.
Neu and Mason’s research project examined concussions that induced Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition believed to be related to repeated head injuries in professional football players in fruit flies, said Buchmann, who was an adviser for the research.
“To do this they had to develop a carefully controlled device which could deliver a very small amount of force precisely to the head of a fruit fly,” Buchmann said.
For his research Chasek examined rocks that are similar to those found on Mars, a topic that Buchmann said is useful for the 2020 Mars Rover project.
Kraxberger and Smith, both pre-service teachers, described in their presentation the sand table hurricane experiment they conducted with the High Ability Learner group from Chadron Middle School. That project was an educational outreach sponsored by NASA, Buchmann said.
Soukup and Brumfield each presented one paper as individuals and participated jointly on another project. Brumfield’s individual research paper covered her initial work isolating pollen from CSC’s High Plains Herbarium collection and entering it into the Nebraska Pollen Database.
Research on treating breast cancer cells with a derivative of curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric root, was the subject of Soukup’s paper. Another student, Shoichi Arai of Kamakura, Japan, also participated in the research but did not attend the conference.
Soukup and Brumfield also presented the results of a project measuring the learning and engagement of people playing online games. Greggory Peterson of Highlands Ranch, Colo., took part in that research as well, but was unable to attend the conference.
In addition to presenting their research papers and observing the presentations of other young scientists, the CSC students toured the Morrison Microscopy Core Research facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There they were able to see several advanced types of microscopes and visit with a UNL microscopist about working in the field of academic research, Morrow said.
—George Ledbetter, College Relations