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Berea's budding scientists share their research

More than 40 students presented their summer research findings with the college community at the 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on October 23.

The 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

The diverse exposition of projects this year ranged from cancer research and chemistry to photography.

Many of the young scientists spent their summer working with leading researchers at some of the nation’s top universities and research institutions, like Vanderbilt University, Mayo Clinic and Oakridge National Lab. Some students stayed on campus and conducted research with professors here.

To make the research opportunities possible for students, Berea College paid wages for up to 40 hours a week to all students with unpaid internships.

Caleb Wetmore, senior Industrial Arts and Technology Education major, spent his summer working with digital infrared and black and white photography. Caleb and his group explored both types of photography as an art form.

Digital cameras are more sensitive to visible light than to infrared, but Caleb was able to make the camera pick up the infrared light rather than the visible light by modifying camera lenses. Infrared photography allows for a picture with more depth than a normal digital picture.

His inspiration for the project came from his curiosity to learn more about photography and how different forms of black and white photography can be expressed. The works of Caleb and his group will be exhibited at the Hutchins Library in the near future.

Alyssa Seibers, Sophomore Art major, gave a presentation on “Thinking Creatively in Education: The Role of Thinking Styles and Creative Self-Efficacy.” Alyssa and her group of researchers worked with 71 adolescents, ages 11-18, who were participating in a Berea-sponsored summer program.

The purpose of the project was to see how a child’s creativity affected the way the child thinks. Alyssa said that schools today turn away from a creative mind, only giving test questions that require one answer. Alyssa and her group wanted to promote the fostering of creativity in schools by demonstrating to educators that a creative mind is a healthy mind.

As an Art major, Alyssa's interest in the psychology of human mind was sparked by her short term class, Psychology of Creativity. Even though she was the odd one out among the group of student psychologists, she said she enjoyed the research and learned a lot from it.

Not all students researched here on campus. Some were able to go to other institutions and work with different professors on various projects. Kayla Kinker, Junior Biology major, spent her summer at Vanderbilt University working on cancer prevention research.

Kayla researched different types of drugs that can kill cancerous cells. But, she found out, there can be too much of a good thing – too high a dose can affect the function of healthy cells as well. So part of her work was to find a healthy level of drug concentration that will inhibit the spread of cancer cells.

Kayla said that she wanted to be part of a research project that was at the cutting edge of medical research. During her internship, she met many young scientists like herself that shared common interests. In the end, she thoroughly enjoyed her summer, the research, the learning opportunity and the new people she met.

"This makes me feel really rewarded. At the end of the day I feel accomplished – like I did something meaningful. No summer job can replace that."

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