Research and the Undergrad

USF’s Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium puts the best of discovery on display for all.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (April 16, 2012) – From the practical to the poetic, from the “other gaga” to new gadgets, more than 175 University of South Florida undergraduates will put their research, artistic and technical abilities on display Wednesday at the Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium.


The event will begin at 9:45 a.m. with more than 100 research posters on display in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom until 1 p.m. Presentations and dance, music and artistic performances will be held from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A complete schedule of events can be found here. Awards for the top projects and presentations will be presented Friday, April 20.


Regarded as one of USF’s top academic traditions, the event is staged as both a learning experience and an opportunity for undergraduate students to demonstrate how they have incorporated research into their learning experience, said Richard Pollenz, Associate Dean and Director of USF’s Office for Undergraduate Research.

A critical aspect of all research projects is presentation,” Pollenz said. “The Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium provides a venue for students across all disciplines to obtain critical feedback on their work and develop their presentation skills that will give the students a competitive advantage for jobs and graduate school admission.  


“In addition, the wide array of research and creative activities allows students to see projects and methodologies in other disciplines."


Students in this year’s event tackled a wide variety of topics, from biomedical sciences student Laura Coppola, who attempted to find the science behind therapy dogs contribution to wellness, to secondary education and biomedical science students Jessica Leon and Saiteja Mallipeddi, who explored the diets of people in prehistoric Portugal using isotopic analysis of ancient bones.


Dance student Caitlyn Casson has studied complex choreographic techniques in Israel. Known as “gaga” movement language, the dance form was central to a six-month choreography project recently presented to audiences at USF for the first time. Kayla Chesanek - who is studying marketing, business administration and art – will present “Metal to the Petal” using the parts of inefficient and environmentally-harmful motor vehicles to create a reflection on nature.


Student inventors will put their new creations on display as well.


Mechanical engineering student Kyle Curham has created a new mobility device to help in the rehabilitation of patients who have had knee injuries while fellow mechanical engineering student Daniel Gomez has developed a new system for improving the cleaning systems of laser printers. Computer engineering students James Muldoon and Mathew Johnson have come up with new technology to detect when stop signs have been toppled in a natural disaster, reducing the time public works employees drive street by street to identify damaged signs.



The 175 student researchers representing eight different colleges, including 37 Research in Arts presentations of dance, sculpture, painting, photography, drawing and video. Approximately 50 additional students will make oral presentations on their research across a wide variety of topics.


Each student has completed their project with the guidance of a faculty mentor and coaching sessions from the Office for Undergraduate Research on making an informative and effective presentation. In addition to the Office for Undergraduate Research, the event is sponsored by USF’s Office for Research & Innovation as part of its on-going ResearchOne celebrations.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.