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Six students part of program to display research results to Legislature
Monday, February 27, 2012

Duncan the border collie
Above, left to right, are Brittany White, Leah Kerns with Duncan--the border collie--and Whitney Riley, who demonstrated how therapy dogs can improve learning outcomes in speech production and motor skill coordination. Psychology Professor Nancy Gee was their advisor.



Alyssa Mede and Hannah Farley
Alyssa Medo (left) and Hannah Farley studied organic waste as an alternate source of energy. Chemistry Professor Sherri Mason was their advisor.


Michelle Sudyn
Michelle Sudyn studied what levels of nitrogen microalgae are necessary in order for microalgae to store the most fatty acids and at what time periods the maximum efficiency is reached, leading to a better understanding of the metabolics of lipid production in algae. Biology Professor Frederick Harrington was her advisor. 
 

By Roger Coda

The research results of six SUNY Fredonia science students will be exhibited in “Discovery: An Undergraduate Showcase” at the Legislative Office Building in Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 29. They will join fellow students from throughout the SUNY system to display their findings in a poster format to a statewide audience.

“Therapy Dogs Elicit More Words in the Storytelling of Preschoolers” will be presented by three seniors – Whitney Riley, Psychology, of Cuba, N.Y.; Brittany White, Psychology, South New Berlin, N.Y.; and Leah Kerns, Biology, Cleveland, N.Y. Their research, based on studies that disclose therapy pets can have positive effects on human health and well-being, demonstrated how therapy dogs can improve learning outcomes in speech production and motor skill coordination.

For example, children used significantly more words to describe pictures in a book to a therapy dog than they did to a human listener. The students also discovered that interaction with therapy dogs can improve performance of children with developmental delays.

Psychology professor Nancy Gee is serving as their faculty adviser.

“Determination of Methane Generation Potentials from Local Food Waste Streams” will be displayed by two Environmental Science majors -- Hannah Farley, a junior, Marion, N.Y., and Alyssa Medo, a senior, Potsdam, N.Y. It is based on their study of organic waste as an alternate source of energy. Their project addressed how organic waste, through anaerobic digestion, can become a source of viable, renewable energy. Decomposition of food waste produces methane gas, which can be used as a clean-burning fuel to generate electricity and heat in an overall carbon neutral process.

Their research could facilitate development of an industrial-scale anaerobic digester that converts food waste into energy. With a campus food-waste assessment compiled in 2011, the students will determine the potential for methane generation from the campus food-waste stream as well as other local organic waste.

Chemistry professor Sherri Mason is serving as their faculty adviser.

“Monitoring Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase to Maximize Lipid Production in Microalga” will be presented by Michelle Sudyn, a senior Molecular Genetics major from West Seneca, N.Y. She studied enzymes involved in the production of lipids, which can be converted into bio-diesel, by green algae. Sudyn studied what levels of nitrogen microalgae are necessary in order for microalgae to store the most fatty acids and at what time periods the maximum efficiency is reached, leading to a better understanding of the metabolics of lipid production in algae.

The goal of Sudyn’s research is to maximize lipid production to make the biofuel extraction process more efficient and, ultimately, aid development of a renewable energy source from algae grown in a waste stream of carbon dioxide and nutrients commonly found in polluted waters.

Biology professor Frederick Harrington is her faculty adviser.


Undergraduate research at SUNY Fredonia:

SUNY Fredonia participated in the first SUNY Senate-sponsored undergraduate showcase in 2010--sending six students, who prepared projects in biology, education, psychology, and communiation disorders. The event was not held last year. 

Dr. Jack Croxton, director of Student Creative Activity & Research, is very proud of the achievements of the six students who are attending this year.

“They are representative of the many fine projects that have been undertaken by our undergraduates here at SUNY Fredonia,” he said.

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