Yearly spring forum gives undergrads chance to present research

Event judge Benton Kidd: “You just have to approach a mentor with a project. And you can win something.”
Projects lined the first four floors of the McQuinn Atrium on April 18.

During this year’s MU Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum, Mohammed Ferris Dweik presented his research on reducing food-caused illnesses by decreasing the time it takes to identify whether a sample of food contains certain bacteria. Dweik is a freshman.

In the afternoon of April 18, hundreds of undergraduate students packed the first four floors of the McQuinn Atrium in the Bond Life Sciences Center to present hundreds of research projects. Before these presentations, two short films and a play were shown.

The forum is an interdisciplinary event, so undergraduate researchers studying subjects ranging from textile and apparel management to marine biology to psychology shared the space.

There are six categories in which projects can be presented. Each category has its own winner and a number of honorable mentions based on the size of the category. For example, the Artistic Expression & Applied Design category had one honorable mention, while Life Sciences had three. Category winners receive $500.

While walking around the floors of presentations, Benton Kidd, an associate curator from the Museum of Art and Archaeology, helped judge the event. He also helped judge last year and said he was excited to be invited back. Kidd said getting into research as an undergraduate is a simple and rewarding opportunity.

“You just have to approach a mentor with a project,” Kidd said. “And you can win something.”

Maddy Quoss, a junior who presented research she started her sophomore year, investigated how different concentrations of the protein interleukin 1 beta could prolong the ability to study the development of osteoarthritis. Her initial results greatly differed from what she expected.

However, those unexpected results “spurred on my entire new project,” Quoss said.

Quoss said one thing she loves about research is that every study creates a hundred more questions.

Quoss is grateful for her time working on research as an undergrad, despite how intimidating she said it can be as a younger student in a professional lab. While laughing, Quoss said she was nervous that at any moment she could accidentally waste thousands of dollars of equipment and chemicals with one clumsy mistake.

“You can easily destroy it all,” she said.

Senior Darrell Cruse’s presentation stood out among the other posters. Under the category of Artistic Expression & Applied Design, Cruse presented a collection of his paintings and a sculpture from other series he had worked on.

Cruse said the pieces he presented showed off his three core values as an artist: “commitment, culture and consciousness.” Many of the works showed his own technical skill and the connections between the past and present, specifically in terms of race.

Cruse said that having his own artworks mixed in among scientific presentations was a great experience because he is used to only being a part of art shows. He said it also showed the similarities between scientific research and art.

“This is people’s hard work and passion,” Cruse said.

Edited by Kyle LaHucik |

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