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Record number of science majors complete competitive research experiences around the country

September 18, 2015

Dakota State University science majors are having a stellar year with many of them completing highly competitive research experiences all over the U.S.

“Such a critical mass of impressive scholastic outings by some of our best and brightest students is a significant historical milestone for our programs,” said chemistry professor, Dr. Michael Gaylor.

Highlights of these research experiences:

As part of her multi-component 2014 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency national research fellowship award, biology major, Grace Estridge, interned at the U.S. EPA Pacific Coastal Ecology and Hatfield Marine Science National Research Labs in Newport, Ore. Estridge’s research project titled “Assessing exposed cockle vulnerability to mortality on Idaho Flat” focused on determining the risks of naturally occurring green macroalgae populations on marine clams (known as cockles) within sensitive coastal ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

Biology and math double major, Jessica Zylla, interned at the Sanford Biomedical Research Labs in Sioux Falls, S.D. Zylla’s research projects titled “A novel porcine model of ataxia telangiectasia displays features of human disease” and “Induced pluripotent stem cells platform to study Batten disease” focused on devising prospective therapies for ataxia telangiectasia and Batten disease, both debilitating neurodegenerative disorders affecting children. Among her intern class of 49 that included the highest-achieving students from around the region, Zylla was the only student to work on and present findings for two distinct biomedical research projects.

Biology major, Walker Ruhd, interned in the Fisheries Science Division of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. Ruhd’s research project titled “A survey of fish populations in South Dakota lakes” focused on evaluating the efficacy of diverse sampling methodologies for accurately estimating fish populations in local lake systems.

Recent physical science alum, Clay “CJ” Barton, completed a prestigious six-month post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in Batavia, Ill. Barton’s research project titled “Particle storage ring and detector instrumentation assembly and calibration for the Muon g-2 experiment” focused on installation and calibration of (and data collection from) a complex system of strain gauges used to measure the contraction forces at work on the Muon g-2 (pronounced “gee minus two”) particle accelerator as it is cooled to temperatures approaching absolute zero during experimental runs.     

Physical science major, Alex Kramer, interned in the Physics and Astronomy Program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Kramer’s research project titled “Exploration of Markov type lie algebras” focused on formalizing the connections between and utilities of so-called Lie Groups and Lie Algebras, two advanced computational approaches for modeling the behavior of complex systems of diffusing matter.

Physical science and computer science double major, Tyler Telkamp, interned in the Forensic Science Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Ala. Telkamp’s research project titled “Groupthink: crawling for crime” focused on development of web crawler applications for mining Facebook group postings for evidential text suggestive of criminal intent and activity. 

 “In addition to the obvious benefits of such transformative experiences for these students, their achievements are also gratifying validation of the rigor and comprehensiveness of our highly interdisciplinary programs, and the tireless efforts of our faculty to inspire our students to exotic destinations of intellectual, academic and professional achievement they never imagined they could visit,” said Gaylor.

“These achievements represent a significant leap forward in our vigorous efforts to build a nationally recognized culture of undergraduate scientific research here at DSU. This is indeed a very exciting time for our science programs!”