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Dec. 10, 2014
Northwest Missouri State University biology students graduating this fall are doing so with a solid understanding of scientific method after completing a trimester-long research project that culminated with poster presentations to their faculty members.
The project, facilitated by Assistant Professor Dr. L. Rex McAliley, was an enhancement to the program’s senior seminar course this fall as a way to deepen students’ understanding of scientific method and provide them with hands-on experience conducting and presenting original research.
“This opportunity will provide a valuable experience for the students of the natural sciences to gain experience presenting facts and research goals, aims and results in front of a professional yet friendly audience,” McAliley said.
Students were tasked with developing an idea, conducting the research and analyzing their data. The project began the first day of the fall trimester.
“The object wasn’t that they produce science that is earth-shattering or new, it was to do science,” McAliley said. “We gave them some general outline of expectations, but how they laid out the poster, what pictures they used, color schemes, that was completely up to them.”
Students researched a range of topics from health science to recycling habits. One student tried to identify which gender pays more attention to details by having a police car parked near a campus intersection and tracking whether males or females drove to a complete stop more often. The study determined females are more observant.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Bethany Aluise, a senior biology and psychology major from Littleton, Colo., who researched the relation of height and individuals’ abilities to touch their toes. “I know I can use this in the future. It definitely helped me build skills that will be helpful outside of school.”
Kelsey Buyert, a senior biology and psychology major from Sheldon, Iowa, decided to test the efficiency of detoxification methods, an idea she developed after seeing a number of shakes, fruit cleansers and other detox methods posted on Pinterest.
She tested the efficiency of shakes, increased water intake and a full cleanse with three subjects during a two-day period. She then analyzed their urine samples to determine the amount of toxins coming from the body of each subject.
Though she has had some research experience in her psychology courses, Buyert said conducting research from a biological science perspective was beneficial, and she looks forward to doing more research projects as she continues her education in graduate school.
“It was a chance to be able to show our professors the knowledge we’ve gained throughout our time here,” Buyert said.
While a descriptive title, correct spelling and grammar, and a clear summary of the materials and methods used for the research were all important, faculty were most interested in seeing their students demonstrate a clear understanding of their research.
“They will clearly understand what they did, and they seem to be more proud of their work and take ownership of it,” McAliley said.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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