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Spring 2020 UROPs

Elayna Meyer
May 19, 2020

UMD student researchers shine in 2020 with their Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program projects.

It’s a big world out there and UMD researchers are taking it on… all while they earn their undergraduate degrees.

Picture of Nora J. Curtis on a log above a stream.

Nora J. Curtis

Austin, Minn.
Major - Biology; Minor - Professional Writing 
I had to run experiments at midnight, on the dock. I would bring a friend, and we'd run the experiments, talk about science, look at the stars, and listen to the sound of the ocean.” Nora is a biology major at UMD currently studying the communication habits of the Oyster Toadfish and how climate change may impact the habits of sea creatures.

Picture of Cole Glenna

Cole Glenna

Shafer, Minn.
Major - Mechanical Engineering; Minors - Materials Science for Engineering and Hispanic Studies
Cole is investigating the mechanical properties of 3D printed surgical hernia meshes and comparing them to traditional methods of manufacturing hernia meshes. “My project will add to the information about the applications of 3D printing implantable medical devices to create medical devices that lead to more successful procedures and increase the quality of life of patients.” 

Picture of Drew Glenna

Drew Glenna

Taylors Falls, Minn.
Major - Mechanical Engineering; Minor - Mathematics
Drew’s research involves writing calculations that he applies to a pebble bed reactor, where pebbles are the fuel and helium is the coolant. “As a young kid, I watched 'The Simpsons' on television, which sparked my curiosity in nuclear power. I hope to become a nuclear engineer to improve the thermal efficiency, cost, and safety of nuclear reactors."

Picture of Morgan Hohn

Morgan Hohn

Woodbury, Minn. 
Major - Communication Sciences and Disorders; Minor - Early Childhood Studies 
Morgan’s research uses eye gaze technology to help children with Cortical Visual Impairment. “Doing research has allowed me to take a tiny step into what language therapy is like. It’s a glimpse into my future career."

Picture of Jenessa Iverson

Jenessa Iverson

Staples, Minn.
Majors - Musical Theatre and Hispanic Studies
Jenessa has spent the last semester writing parts of a musical, entitled “Letters to Someone: The Musical.” According to Jenessa, the musical explores the life of a bisexual woman; her trials and tribulations; and her journey to find and love herself. “More than anything, this story is about the journey to acceptance. I hope that [the audience] can see the humanity in the characters, and the humanity in me. We are all people, plain and simple.”

Picture of Elayna Meyer

Elayna Meyer

Red Wing, Minn.
Major- Chemical Engineering; Minor - Environmental Engineering 
Elayna’s project measures how much lead in contaminated water can be absorbed by duckweed, a plant that commonly grows in water. “Harmful levels of metals and minerals in water [means] bad news for plants, animals, and especially ourselves. Using plants like duckweed to treat water could be a cost effective and efficient way to keep our environment healthy and safe.”

Picture of Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller

Glen Elder, Kan.
Major - Psychology; Minor - Biology 
Rachel is working to find a connection between young children’s spatial acuity and empathy levels.“The coolest things about this project for me were working with children and being able to work alongside faculty mentors who truly loved the research topic. It was inspiring and comforting to see them... pour their knowledge and hearts into the research project alongside me.”

Picture of Sam Nesheim

Sam Nesheim

Brainerd, Minn.
Major - Environmental Science; Minor - Biology 
Sam is a UMD undergraduate researcher investigating water temperatures from different sources to better understand trout behavior. “I am taking field samples and various water chemistry metrics of a north shore stream around a deep groundwater spring during the winter. If I can show that the spring provides significant winter streamflow at a significantly warmer temperature than the regular streamflow, it could end up being a key element in trout survival during the winter.”

Picture of Emily Ostrand

Emily Ostrand

Mahtomedi, Minn.
Majors - Psychology and Communication Sciences and Disorders; Minor - Hispanic Studies 
Research can create empathy. Emily Ostrand’s undergraduate research is on the efficiency of communication devices for those who cannot communicate verbally. “This [project] gave me a better understanding of what it would be like to have to rely on one of these devices to communicate on a daily basis.”

Picture of Caleb Slegh

Caleb Slegh

Owatonna, Minn.
Majors - Finance and Marketing
Caleb’s research delves into the world of the eSports industry in terms of history and expansion. This includes looking at the prominence that eSports may have in the future. “I believe that the stereotypes around gaming competitively…  should be addressed so our communities can come together… just as we do with traditional sports.”

Picture of Danielle Stolze and two friends

Danielle Stolze

Williamsburg, Iowa
Major - Geology; Minor - Journalism 
Danielle and her classmates are looking at rocks from near Soudan, Minnesota, and northern Ontario to compare their mineral composition. “The rocks that are here today can tell us so much about the Earth’s past. It’s hard to imagine what the Earth was like back then, but looking at these rocks can give us clues about that. Plus, holding a rock that has existed for over two billion years is kind of amazing.”

Picture of McKenna Walker

McKenna Walker

Eau Claire, Wis.
Major - Psychology; Minor - Communication 
Not all research is working with numbers and equations; some involves people. McKenna Walker’s project studies the signs and causes of jealousy in different relationships. “This project sheds a light on today's current relationships, and includes recognition to all gender identities, sexual orientations, and diverse relationships.”

Top image: Elayna Meyer 

About the UMD Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program