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Boise State Undergraduate Students to Present at National Research Conference

By:    Published 11:12 am / February 28, 2012

The best and brightest research endeavors by Boise State undergraduate students will be on display March 29-31 at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which will be hosted by Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.

Twenty-seven Boise State students were accepted to present research projects. The students, chosen out of 3,200 applications nationwide, have completed research studies in economics, criminal justice, physics, psychology, nursing, biology, mathematics, political science and chemistry.

The conference promotes undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. Unlike meetings of academic professional organizations, this gathering of young scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all corners of the academic curriculum. Through this annual conference, a unique environment is created for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement and models of exemplary research and scholarship, and helps to improve the state of undergraduate education.

“One of the strengths of Boise State is the prominent role that undergraduate students play in research,” said Sharon McGuire, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies. “We are in the top 10 percent of conference participants nationwide, and the fact that 87 percent of the research abstracts submitted by our students were accepted for presentation at the conference demonstrates the scope and depth of undergraduate research being conducted at Boise State.”

Research projects that will be presented by Boise State students include:

  • Effects of prisoner location on visitation patterns: This study explores factors that relate to visitation patterns for prisoners under Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections supervision. A quantitative data analysis was conducted using a database provided by the ODRC which encompassed demographic and visit data on all incarcerated prisoners from 2006 until 2011. Results show that many inmates had very few visits while a few inmates had many visits. Gender specific analyses indicate significantly more visitors approved, lower security levels and higher proportion of marriage/significant other partners among women than men, but no difference in the actual numbers of visits men and women experienced. Tremendous variability exists between institutions in terms of transportation accessibility and visitation policy barriers. Collaborating on the study are Lisa Bostaph, associate professor of criminal justice at Boise State and Audrey Begun, associate professor of social work at Ohio State University.
  • To eat or not to eat: developing biomarkers for diet selection by herbivores: A major goal in conservation biology is to predict habitat use by animals. This goal requires the use of methods that both identify quality features of habitats for animals and measure those features across different scales. Remote sensing has been used for landscape-scale analysis of habitat features to explain the habitat use of large herbivores.  However, studies that directly link specific parameters of habitat quality to selection by wildlife are needed at the microsite-scale before landscape-scale mapping can be validated. Researchers used the sagebrush-pygmy rabbit and sage grouse systems to develop spectral biomarkers that can predict the quality of food at a scale that is relevant to a foraging herbivore. Researchers found that crude protein was higher and monoterpenes were lower in sagebrush on-mounds used frequently by pygmy rabbits compared to off-mounds used less frequently and the spectral profile of sagebrush differed between mound locations. Researchers also found that digestible crude protein was higher in sagebrush browsed by pygmy rabbits compared to sagebrush not browsed, but failed to detect spectral differences between browsed and unbrowsed plants. The study was completed in collaboration with Jennifer Forbey, assistant professor of biological sciences at Boise State.
  • Thermodynamic Stability of a Bi-layer of Copper Nitride on Cu(100) Surface:Ultrathin insulating films composed of a few atomic layers are being extensively used for controlling the electronic coupling of nanostructures. In this work, the researchers studied the thermodynamic stability of a bi-layer of copper nitride on the copper surface. They calculated adsorption and co-adsorption energies of copper and nitrogen as a function of their concentration on the copper surface using density functional theory. Researchers found that the adsorption and co-adsorption energies of copper and nitrogen on the surface are of the order of a few electronvolts. This suggests that the bi-layer of copper nitride is thermodynamically stable on the copper surface. The study was completed in collaboration with Pushpa Raghani, assistant professor of physics at Boise State.

Students accepted to participate include: Aaron Batteen, Angie Monroe, Anna Nelson, Carrie Hill, Charlotte Tomevi, Clinton Robertson, Efren Velazquez, Eric Donahue, Eric Roberts, Izaak Williamson, Jenna Nash, Kameryn Williams, Kristina Gehlken, Laura Markey, Lena Bush, Lesley Yang, Max Greenlee, Megan Sandmann, Reilly Clark, Remington Turner, Russell Holten, Ryan De La Rosa, Ryoko Pentecost, Shandra Jeffries, Shwaye Eibensteiner, Sofia Fernandez, and Suzanne Craig.

A full schedule and program can be found at