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Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry

Current Research Project Openings

As we receive undergraduate research assistant requests, we will post them on this page. Please check back frequently for new listings.  

Project Title: Talking about teachers: Research discourse around faculty change and development

Project Description: This study is a massive review of available literature to ascertain how researchers in science education talk about university faculty, and classify how they approach faculty development and decision-making around teaching.  We are pretty sure that most of the literature holds an implicit "deficit" perspective: faculty are bad at teaching, and we need to fix them.  However, we're not sure how prevalent this model is, the ways that it manifests, and what other models are present in the literature.  We are planning to submit the results of this research to a peer-reviewed journal, and you would be an author on that paper.   This is a great project if you love to read and synthesize lots of different ideas.  It's helpful if you want to teach or if you're majoring in a discipline that does a lot of reading (e.g. history, sociology, english, etc).  You don't need to know a lot of physics to do this project.

Student Assistant Activities: You will work with other researchers, both at KSU and over zoom, to do these things:
* Read or skim a lot of published papers, looking for the ways they talk about faculty
* Help figure out a classification scheme
* Classify the papers' models of faculty change
* Keep good notes and documentation on papers and their classification
* Write parts of a paper for peer-reviewed publication

To help you be successful, we will:
* Teach you how to keep track of all your data
* Coach you in data classification
* Work with you to develop your writing and analytic skills
* Have regular meetings with you, individually and as part of a team

It is helpful, but not required, if you are available for extended research group meetings on Mondays at 2:30. You can work at home or on campus.  We can give you office space if you want it. 

Depending on your productivity and interest this semester, this project might be extended to the summer and beyond with chance of funding. Because of this possibility, I prefer to work with students who are not planning to graduate in Spring '19.

Our extended research group includes grad students, undergrads, postdocs, faculty, and independent researchers all over the world (but mostly in the US). Most of us have a background in physics, but that is not a requirement for this project.  Disciplinary backgrounds in our group have included astronomy, computer science, psychology, education, math, ESL studies, music, and engineering; you can have any disciplinary background for this project. About half of us identify as women and half as men; people of any gender are welcome to join our group.

Time Commitment: We plan to start work near the beginning of the semester, complete initial data analysis by spring break, and prepare the paper in the end parts of the semester.  However, as the project develops, we might spend more or less time on different phases of the project.

You should expect to spend 5-10h/week on this project, which includes team meetings as well as your research time.

Required Skills: You must be:
* good at reading quickly and synthesizing information
* organized
* communicative, especially over email
* reasonably ok with google docs

It is a bonus, but not required, if you:
* have taken physics or education classes
* plan to graduate AFTER spring '19
* can join group meetings on Mondays at 2:30
* are conversant in LaTeX
* would like course credit from PHY 707

*Course credit available for PHY707, 1-3 credits

Project website: https://www.zaposa.com/home

If interested, please contact Dr. Eleanor Sayre (contact information below) for additional information.

Principal Investigator Information:
Name: Dr. Eleanor Sayre
College/Department: College of Arts and Sciences/Physics
Campus address: 329 Cardwell Hall
Phone number: 785-313-5039
Email: esayre@ksu.edu

*Preferred contact method: Email


Project Title: Soil water processes lab

Project Description: Our group focuses on studying soil properties and applications of soil moisture information in agriculture and hydrology. We investigate the spatial patterns of multiple soil properties at the field, regional, and state level. We also explore soil moisture changes in time in cropland and grassland.  

Student Assistant Activities: Students in our lab learn how to take soil samples, conduct multiple analyses and handle instrumentation both laboratory and field conditions. Undergraduate student collaborate with projects led by graduate students, but highly motivated students can develop their own research ideas directly supervised by the principal investigator of the program.

Time Commitment: Flexible, in-campus schedule. About 10 hours per week.
Required Skills: Highly motivated, attention to detail, valid drivers license, enrolled in at least 6 credits

*Potential for funding depends on the project and semester

Project website: https://soil-physics.github.io/ksu/

If interested, please contact Dr. Andres Patrignani (contact information below) for additional information.

Principal Investigator Information:
Name: Andres Patrignani
College/Department: Agriculture/Agronomy
Campus address: 1011A Throckmorton Hall
Phone number: 785-532-5732
Email: andrespatrignani@ksu.edu

*Preferred contact method: Email


Project Title: Computational drug discovery for cancer, immunology, malaria and COVID-19

Project Description: Students will apply computational methods to analyze potential drug/target interactions, characterize trends in structure activity relationships, predict drug binding pockets, and identify new drugs. Methods used may include molecular modeling and visualization, molecular dynamics simulations, quantum chemistry, and machine learning. We will primarily focus on potential drugs for cancer, immunology, and malaria. Computational results will be tested experimentally in our lab and labs of collaborators.

Student Assistant Activities: Apply computational methods to drive research projects. Participate in research teams. Contribute to research that will be published in academic journals. Lots of data analysis. Help other research team members.

Time Commitment: 8+ hours a week during the school year, 30+ hours a week during the summer. Looking for commitment for 2+ years.
Required Skills: Some background and interest in chemistry, physics, mathematics/statistics, computer science as applied to biomedical problems. Previous programming experience especially with Python and Linux desirable.

*Potential for funding as students gain experience. Course credit available.

If interested, please contact Ho Leung Ng (contact information below) for additional information.

Principal Investigator Information:
Name: Ho Leung Ng
College/Department: Arts and Sciences/Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Campus address: 34 Chalmers Hall
Phone number: 785-532-2518
Email: hng@ksu.edu


Opportunities in Plant Pathology

Description: Plant pathology is the study of plant diseases, their causes, effects, and control. Keeping plants healthy requires an understanding of the organisms and agents that cause disease as well as an understanding of how plants grow and are affected by disease. Our faculty have a wide range of expertise and frequently take undergraduate research students for research training opportunities in their labs. Many of our faculty also participate in the Interdepartmental Genetics Program. Our faculty research interests include: Plant Disease, Plant Health, Genetics (Plant genetics of models and crops, fungal genetics, population genetics, host plant resistance genetics), Microbiology (Fungi, Bacteria, Viruses), Pathogens (Fungi, Bacteria, Viruses, Nematodes), Plant-Microbe Interactions, Molecular biology, Genomics, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Epidemiology, Applied Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Disease diagnosis and management.

Student Assistant Activities: Will vary by lab

Time Commitment: Will vary by lab

Required Skills: Will vary by lab

*Course credit is available via enrollment in PLPTH 495 Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology for 0, 1, 2, or 3 credits). In some cases funding may be available.

If interested, please contact Richard Todd (contact information below) for additional information.

Principal Investigator Information:
Name: Richard Todd
College/Department: Agriculture, Plant Pathology
Campus address: 4024 Throckmorton Hall
Phone number: 785- 532-0692
Preferred Contact Method: Email

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