The Office of Undergraduate Research will host the fourth-annual Undergraduate Research Expo. 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday, 2017 Maes, Education and Cherry buildings.

“Undergraduate students from all majors are welcome and encouraged to participate.” Kumar Das, OUR director, said. “It has been documented time and again that undergraduate research and creative activity lead to improved academic success, learning comprehension, rates of retention and rates of graduation. Moreover, undergraduate researchers are more likely to pursue graduate education. That’s why this is so important to me and the idea of supporting students to grow gave me the idea to start this program at Lamar.

“The rich culture of engaging undergraduates in research is indeed the purest form of student learning, an exceptional model of faculty teaching, and a key ingredient in faculty scholarly development. It gives students a sense of empowerment over a body of knowledge and instills in them the confidence to succeed. It’s becoming a mainstay of effective and quality undergraduate education.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research promotes undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities for all undergraduate students at Lamar.

Cheerleading File Photo 3 - Sept.5, 2016 - Trevier“The event hosts regional and national conferences, provides grant and travel supports, and organize workshops,” Das said. “The expo is the signature event of the program and we wish all participants the best.

Keynote speaker will be James Bruce, LU alumnus and a professor for electrical engineering emeritus at Massachusetts

Psychology student, An P. Vo is researching biometric analysis of ego depletion.

“In a nut shell, we’re looking at the idea that willpower or cognitive energy is a resource

that can be exhausted (ego depletion is the exhaustion element of willpower),” Vo said. “The exact resource is currently unknown, but it exists. Otherwise, we would all be highly motivated to work all the time without becoming mentally fatigued. Our focus is to examine blood glucose levels and eye dilation in order to tease out the relationships regarding the resource.

“We are building a do it yourself research ready eye tracking device that will be mounted on a pair of glasses which will help you measure your cognitive load. Measuring cognitive load or when you’re focusing is equivalent to measuring when you’re spending your willpower. So we will have a device that will give you a look into how much mental energy you have to do your homework, or when the doctor is about to botch your surgery by measuring willpower and ego depletion.”

Nursing student, Oxserio Benites is researching HIV and health literacy.

“Last year I was in the McNair research program and studied how much Lamar students know about HIV,” she said. “I received permission to use a reliable questionnaire from a professor from Brown University called the HIV-KQ-18. It is a questionnaire concerning basic HIV information, mainly about transmission, in 18 questions. I also created a demographic form and a confidence question. The students were asked how confident they feel about their knowledge

pertaining to HIV.”

The more a person can understand what they read, the more confident they feel about the subject and the less they read, the less confident they are, Benites said.

“I hope my research will at least inspire others to get tested for HIV,” she said. “I also hope that more people will learn more about HIV, how it affects one’s life, and decrease the HIV stigma.

Senior Baylie Fox is researching hearing aid batteries and how long the wearer should wait after peeling the tab to use them. Hearing aid batteries are different because they are made with zinc and require time to oxidize before being able to be used.

“My research isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it will help hearing aid patients avoid having to wait a long time before replacing their batteries, making hearing aids less of a hassle for them,” she said. “By researching this, I am discovering a standard to tell patients on how long to wait before putting their new battery into the hearing aid. I am also getting experience in research in case I decide to do more in the future.”

Students are welcome to attend the Expo even if they did not submit an abstract, Das said.

“Come and see what your fellow students are doing and get involved,” he said. “We will offer Office of Undergraduate Research grants for the 2017-18 academic year very soon (application deadline is Sept. 22). Contact a faculty mentor about your interest and start putting together a proposal. For the 2016-2017 academic year there were 35 winners (30 projects). Each student received up to a $1000 research support and a $500 stipend.”

For more information, email or, or call 880-8430.

 Sierra Kondos

UP contributor


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