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Undergraduate students present research to elected officials

Pittsburg State has persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to hold virtual events and get togethers, while also winning awards and competing in competitions across various departments.  

Recently, undergraduate students of Pitt State competed in the Capitol Undergraduate Research Summit where they presented their research to Kansas officials.  

Usually, the competition is held in the Capitol Rotunda at the statehouse in Topeka but like many events this year, the competition was held virtually due to COVID-19.  

Caleb Durbin, senior in biology, focused his research on mammal communities in Kansas mined lands with data that he collected for Snapshot USA.  

“This research is crucial in management of reclaimed mined lands and conservation of our mammals,” Durbin said. “With this research, we were able to identify the species richness of our local reclaimed wildlife areas. The more species richness, the more biodiversity. By reclaiming mined lands in a way that promotes habitation of a multitude of different mammal communities, we can positively impact our ecosystem and allow these species to thrive within these areas.”  

Maggie Murray, senior in biology, presented reach on mammalian populations in the U.S. and how mammalian species are affected by temperature and precipitation.   

“…In the long run, we can see how climate change has affected these abiotic factors like temperature and precipitation, and consequently how mammalian populations change,” Murray said.  

Howard Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, recorded a welcome address which can also be viewed online.  

“We’ve derived many benefits from our undergraduate research program,” Smith said. “It’s really enhanced student learning through mentoring relationships with faculty.”  

The competition is a good way to highlight the research and education going on at Pitt State, according to Durbin.   

“…I think it’s a great way to showcase my research to others around the state and a way to voice the significance and importance of our research,” Durbin said. “I think it’s also a great way to show others with influence such as state representatives what Pittsburg State is capable of and potentially get funding for other important research projects in the future.”  

Additionally, Pitt State student Thai Butcher presented research on polymers with biomedical application and Pitt State student Mark Arnce’s research focused on expandable graphite as flame retardant in industrial use.  

“I’m very grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been able to pursue at Pittsburg State,” Murray said. “None of it would have been possible without the help from my professors.”  

Presentations by students can be viewed online (ltblogs.fhsu.edu/urd2021/category/pittsburg-state).  

“I am thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given at Pitt State. I’m very grateful and honored to be able to present research that Dr. Brodsky and I (along with many others) worked so hard on. These are memories that I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life and skills that I’ll be able to apply and enhance as I take steps toward my career. It’s something special to me and I’m proud to be a student at Pittsburg State.”  

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