The Daily Gamecock

Students show research at Discovery Day

Office of Undergraduate Research event features variety of presentations

USC students presented their in-depth research studies to a panel of judges and fellow students Friday for the ninth-annual Discovery Day in the Russell House ballroom and theater.

Sponsored by Office of Undergraduate Research, the event featured oral and creative presentations as well as poster presentations followed by an award ceremony in subjects varying from chemistry to arts and humanities.

Second-year marine science students Emma Kelley and Kyra Marsigliano exhibited their studies funded by Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences through a poster about undergraduate-driven research at the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences.

The pair has conducted research four times since last semester at the Baruch Institute near Georgetown, S.C with their mentors earth and oceans sciences professor Claudia Benitez-Nelson and biological sciences professor Tammi Richardson. They invited USC-Columbia and USC-Sumter students interested in marine life and introduced them to different marshes, beaches and ecosystems to learn what different types of species live in these areas. They also investigated how different mesh sizes will catch different animals.

Though they said the study was preliminary, both students said the main purpose of their study was to partake in undergraduate research.

“We eventually want to study long-term trends and continue this in future years,” Marsigliano said.

Fourth-year biology student Laurie Graves used her $1,400 grant from the Honors College to look deeper into estrogen receptors and epigenetics in human female skeletal muscle. Participating in Discovery Day for a second year, Graves said she has been working on the study since September but plans to conduct more studies before she eventually submits it to a higher panel.  

“The grant helped me complete my thesis, which will help me start medical school at MUSC in August,” Graves said.

According to Director of Undergraduate Research Jenny Morris, a 20 percent increase of participants was seen since last year and 60 percent since 2009.

“I think awareness has a lot to do with the increase. This is essentially USC Connect in the flesh,” she said.

Morris also said there has been a noticeable trend in the increase in arts and humanities studies, as well as sociology and business research.

“It’s like our saying — there’s discovery for every discipline. We really want to embrace that.”