Mountain Lion Research Day showcases research on campus

April 23, 2012

April Wefler
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Students and faculty alike were invited to share their academic research during Mountain Lion Research Day on April 13 at the Gallogly Events Center. The poster session consisted of 82 researchers speaking about their work.

Michael Larson, associate vice-chancellor for research, started the program four years ago. “We really needed a mechanism for allowing faculty, students and people from different colleges to appreciate and understand what different people are doing,” he said.

Larson said that invitations are also sent to students and faculty at Pikes Peak Community College and the community at large. “It lets folks better understand what’s going on in research at their local facility. We need the community support,” said Larson.

“It’s been education for me to get a look at the broad range of research that’s happening at UCCS,” he added. “Intellectual vitality of research is what makes UCCS so great and distinguishes a university from a community college.”

Cerian Gibbes, a professor in geographical and environmental studies, shared her studies of the change in climate and vegetation patterns in southern Africa since the 1950s.

“People often think of much of sub-Saharan as being resource-scarce; from a different perspective, it’s actually resource-wealthy,” she explained.

While researching, Gibbes realized that there was less rainfall in southern Africa after the 1970s and the region was moving away from large trees to shrub species. She noted that it could potentially affect the local wildlife.

Michelle Wood and Evan Shelton, senior undergraduates, did a study for a class and were invited to present their research at the poster session. “We wanted to see whether a girl’s attachment to her father in childhood prevented her from having risky sexual behavior later in life,” said Wood.

While researching, Wood and Shelton gathered evidence that they believe supports their hypothesis. “Girls seek acceptance from their father and if they don’t get it, they find it in another male,” said Wood.

Sophomore Justin Miller, a research assistant for Veterans Trauma Court, studies post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. “Mental health [in veterans] is pretty distraught after a war,” Miller said. “We want to help them start completely over without them being held back while trying to get a job.”

A class three or higher felony can’t be erased, but the files can be sealed. “We give them a lot of support because they protect our country,” he said.

The poster session included three oral presentations by Eugenia Olesnicky Killian about fruit fly genes, Charles C. Benight regarding his study of disasters, and John Crumlin explaining what the CU Aging Center is used for. Benight is hosting a session April 27 in Breckenridge 5101 from 12-1:30 p.m. to further explain his research.

Afterward, during the Keynote Luncheon, James O’Hill of the Colorado Center for Health and Wellness in Denver talked about what the center is doing to help obese kids become healthier.

Gibbes added that it was great to see the work others were doing. “I’m really impressed with the student presentations that are present here.”