McPherson College held its annual Natural Science Research Forum on April 21. Around 75 students, faculty, family and friends attended the event held in Melhorn Science Hall on the McPherson College Campus.

Natural Science majors spend their final two years of college researching, experimenting and analyzing their data for their senior projects. The capstone of this experience is the forum, an event held since the early 1980s where the students present their findings and answer questions from the audience about their research. These presentations make up 30 percent of their final grade in their NS475 Senior Research class. Their research is then published in The Cantaurus, a scientific journal for the college. Having published research as an undergraduate is rare and often sets McPherson College students apart from other graduate school applicants.

“The senior research forum is the culmination of a two-year process starting during the student’s junior year. Our department’s dedication to students learning science by doing real research makes for a unique experience that not many other undergraduates get as an integrated part of their major. This event is an excellent way to highlight our natural science seniors and showcase their hard work. It is always a proud moment, as a faculty member, to watch our students in this moment and see all of their hard work come to fruition,” said Dr. Dustin Wilgers, assistant professor of biology.

Students are encouraged to develop their own research according to their interests. Lucas Giesey, biochemistry major from Sheridan, Wyoming, had surgery three times during his first two years of college due to a sports injury. He developed an interest in anesthesia, which led him to research the effects of the Corydalis plant as an anesthetic on mice. In his presentation, he also explained several of the downsides of working with mice and documenting how they slept.

Elyse Munganga, biology major from Topeka, used a more difficult subject base, his fellow students. His project studied the effects of caffeine on students’ ability to follow puzzles on short-term memory and memorizations. One of his biggest challenges was getting enough volunteer students to come for testing early in the morning.

Also presenting was Nathan Finch, biochemistry major from Lindsborg, who recently took first place in the annual Kansas Academy of Sciences meeting. This competition saw students from colleges and universities across Kansas presenting their research in a two-day forum. Finch won the undergraduate research competition with his presentation, “The Effect of pH on Gossypol Inhibition of Rabbit Muscle Lactate Dehydrogenase.”

“My research topic was important to me. However, experiencing the research process first hand has helped me interpret and access others’ research. That’s what matters,” said Finch.

A full list of the students who presented follows:

Alyssa Drury: The Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in Escherichia coli in relation to wastewater treatment plants

Sheryl Evans: The Effects of Condition on Leg Regeneration in the Wolf Spider Rabidosa punctulata

Kayla Faust: Drainage Isolation in Kansas Streams Affects Gene Flow in Fresh Water Fish of Different Regions

Johnathan Feaster: Transesterification of used shortening soybean oil and physical property analysis

Nathan Finch: The Effect of pH on Gossypol Inhibition of Rabbit Muscle Lactate Dehydrogenase

Lucas Giesey: Efficacy of dl-tetrahydropalmatine (component of Corydalis yanhusou extract) as a Sedative on Mice

Elyse Munganga: The effect of one-time dietary consumption of caffeine on attention and short-term memory-change

David A. Nobo: Thinopyrum intermedium Primary Root Growth Affected by Simulated Microgravity

Samuel Nobo: Antimicrobial Efficacy of the Phenolic Compounds: Ellagic Acid and Epigallocatechin Gallate

Blake A. Ware: Growth and Development in Wolf Spiders