By Adria Carpenter
Attending one of the top 10 public research institutions in the nation, University of Minnesota Twin Cities students are at the forefront of advancement in biological sciences, agriculture, technology and more. And when students conduct their research, they turn to the University Libraries.
At the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, students shared their creative and scholarly projects with the community.
Kaushall Senthil Nathan
Kaushall Senthil Nathan, a psychology and computer science major, studied the connection between video games and personality. What personality traits map onto what game features? Does someone’s self-reported preference for certain features correspond to their implicit preference?
Nathan’s project was not the first of its kind, and he used online databases to help form the foundation for his research.
“I came across several studies that did personality and genre, personality and art paintings, and that gave me a sort of frame of reference to be like, ‘Okay, what is the past done? And how can I improve upon that?’” he said. “The library also helped me when I was finding my method. I wanted to see, ‘Okay, what methods are they using to find correlations? And how are they framing it in their own papers?’”
Sam Spaulding, a student in the department of horticulture, tested the complementary relationship between peppers and beans, specifically whether Lake Bush bean plants could provide a steady supply of nitrogen to Lady Bell peppers.
After a fruitless search, Spaulding asked a librarian to recommend some scholarly article related to his topic. And almost immediately, he received a long list of different resources.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do without the University library,” Spaulding said. “It was crazy to see because I myself was having a hard time finding the specific details. But it seemed like almost every single one she sent me was perfectly tailored to exactly what I was looking at. So yes, the University Libraries were amazing.”
Spaulding scans through the library’s resources anytime he begins a new project.
“It’s nice that we can do this stuff online now, and I don’t have to necessarily [have to] go into a library to do it. But I was still able to communicate online and do things through there,” he said. “I think that echoes a lot of the ways that we are evolving to do research as more online based.”
Another horticulture student, Hazel Fritz, examined the shooting and rooting success rates for tissue-cultured flax plants. But she found very little data and literature on flax in tissue culture, and instead, used other articles on tissue culturing in similar plants.
“The research articles are really helpful, that I can access through the library’s website,” Fritz said.
Sierra Hinze explored whether Mornington wool would make natural dyes, like onion dyes for example, more applicable. How much dye would runoff for a standard wash, and how much would adhere to the fiber?
“I used the library actually a lot because I needed to find standards for washing. So, I went to the library, and they showed me the standard section in the basement [of the Walter Library], which I’ve never been in before,” she said.
In the department of neuroscience, Meea Mosissa researched the effect of casino-like, audio and visual rewards on decision making in mice.
In his experiment, mice could choose one level with a 50 percent chance of getting the reward that was also paired with audiovisual cues, and another level with different percentages (0, 25, 50, 75 or 100 percent) but without any cues.
As the experiment progressed, Mosissa compared his findings to similar experiments using the library’s online databases. This helped him understand why his mice seemed to prefer the casino lever.
“It helped me get a better, like bird’s eye view of some of the results I was getting,” he said.
Resources offered for students and researchers:
- Experts@Minnesota helps connect students with potential faculty mentors.
- Think Like a Researcher can help undergraduate students develop their research skills and familiarize them with tools provided by the university.
- Students can meet face-to-face with subject librarians and department liaisons to help with in-depth research questions.
- Students can learn how to use citation management tools for their papers and bibliographies.
- Beyond online databases and tools, students have access to thousands of physical documents and materials in the Archives and Special Collections that help support undergraduate projects.
- Students can learn how to design scientific posters by signing up for workshops or following the online tutorial on Communicating Your Research with Posters.
- Students can print their posters using the Map Library, and the University Libraries display some posters throughout the libraries.
- After the symposium, the completed posters are archived in the University Digital Conservancy, which is also available for browsing and serves as a reference point for future students.