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Winners recognized from annual Research Symposium

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 32 - June 5, 1997

There were 82 graduate student entries and 82 undergraduate entries in the 13th annual Research Symposium sponsored by the Virginia Tech's Graduate Student Assembly with the support of the Graduate School and the College of Engineering.
Two undergraduates tied for first for presentation of their research: Beth Costine, a major in animal and poultry science (APSC), and Steven Bathiche, a major in electrical engineering.
Bathiche, a senior, worked with entomology associate professor Jeff Bloomquist, to process the signals from the flight muscles of the American cockroach to drive a car. The next immediate development will be to process signals involved in turning. Bathiche intends to learn how to interface humans with machines to increase mobility for the severely handicapped.
Costine, with student colleague Meghan C. Wulster and associate professor Gregory S. Lewis, improved the method for artificial insemination of sheep using an AI instrument they designed specifically for sheep. Her poster described the research using the new instrument and oxytocin to cause cervical dilation.
The second place winner in the undergraduate competition, Mark Cline, is also a major in APSC, also doing research with sheep. He and fellow students John N. Ralston and Richard C. Seals, and faculty member Lewis did research to determine and to predict the time of ovulation in sheep after estrus synchronization treatments.

Graduate Student Winners

Among graduate student winners in the research symposium,
* Rhonda M. Hoffman was first in the life-sciences category; David Mullins was second, and Christiane Massicotte, a resident in veterinary medicine, was third.
* Richard Hanowski was first in the physical sciences and engineering category; Mark Abee was second, and Mitchell Jackson was third.
* Rebecca Columbus was first in the social sciences section, Jason McCartney was second, and Kalpana Kanwar was third.
Hoffman, a major in APSC, faculty members David Kronfeld of APSC, J.H. Herbein of dairy science, and W.S. Swecker of veterinary medicine, and W.L. Cooper, superintendent at the Middleburg Agricultural Research Center did research to determine the dietary attributes of mares' milk from mares fed various supplements. They found that corn oil in the pregnant mare's diet may improve the health of foals.
Mullins and biology Professor Klaus Elgert studied nitric-oxide production in the presence of cancerous macrophages after the administration of taxol. Overproduction of nitric oxide is one component of immune suppression. The research demonstrated that taxol treatment reduced nitric-oxide production more than 50 percent.
Massicotte and veterinary medicine faculty members Karen Dyer Inzana, Marion Ehrich, and Bernard Jortner did research on maintaining the health of the nervous system in hens.
Hanowski, a major in industrial systems engineering, did a field experiment to investigate the benefits of an in-vehicle information system (IVIS) when the driver is confronted with an unexpected situation, such as a car exiting a hidden driveway or a crash scene. Hanowski found IVIS beneficial and that drivers can safely switch attention from IVIS to the roadway, but the layout of the information is important--particularly for older drivers, and that drivers should be allowed to select whether or not to receive low urgency messages and cues.
Abee and chemical-engineering faculty member David Cox studied the nature of oxide reactivity on oxide surfaces.
Jackson and materials-science-and-engineering faculty member Brian Love studied the durability of water-based epoxy in circuit board applications for both adhesive and electrical performance.
Columbus and psychology Professor Robert Lickliter studied bobwhite quail chicks to discover that disruption of sensory experience (touch, sound, or vision) in the first 36 hours after hatching interfered with their typical responses to the bobwhite hen. Auditory and tactile disruption in later periods, at least up to 72 hours, also disrupted the chicks' perceptual development.
Is exaggerated pitch necessary to attract an infant's attention? McCartney and psychology faculty member Robin P. Cooper studied infants' attention to adult speech to investigate the role of pitch in directing infant attention. Findings seem to indicate pitch may be one of many characteristics that attract infant attention and let them know attention is being directed to them, but it seems to succeed only within a language context.
People influence and are influenced by the places they build. Kanwar, a major in environmental design and planning, studied how Asian Indian immigrants to the United States construct their identity through the Hindu temples in Chicago. Temple activities include social and religious activities. Kanwar's preliminary findings suggest the temple allows the Asian Indian community to express themselves as Asian Indians.