A Passion for Discovery

long view of research exhibition in HUB ballroom
Jeff Shaeffer

Annie Steed plucked cockroaches from a cage to examine their resistance to insecticide.

Erica Schneider flew to New Zealand to investigate earthquakes and fault lines.

Sachin Aggarwal drew up the blueprints for constructing a cineplex in downtown State College.

In addition to their curiosity and creativity, these researchers have one thing in common: They're all undergraduates. At Penn State, hundreds of undergrads each year get involved in research projects. These students travel from libraries and labs to field sites around the world and for many, the experience is life-changing.

In April, 128 student researchers shared their discoveries at the 11th annual Undergraduate Research Exhibition.

"Real research stems from what you are truly passionate about," said Gia Viggiano, explaining her hands-on experience in a biology lab, testing frog blood for disease.

"Research gave me a chance to finally figure out what I really like," added Kate Bulinski, who spent three years exploring limestone, petroleum, and biomass energy, before deciding to study snails instead.

In old HUB ballroom, 2 men looking at blue research poster
Jeff Shaeffer

"Undergrads have so many cool ideas and ways of doing things," said Robin Hoecker, displaying her photomosaic of student protests. "We take our enthusiasm and passions and create pretty impressive work."

Our student team of science writers and digital photographers, led by undergraduate editor Alison Balmat and photo editor Brooke Mashel, would tend to agree. The writers were taking the class "Writing for Research Magazines" (English 495) in the English Department, College of the Liberal Arts. The photographers were members of the Digital Photography Studio (Art 491) in the Department of Integrative Arts, College of Arts and Architecture. Check out their reports from the Undergraduate Research Exhibition and see what you think. You will also see their work in the September 2002 issue of Research/Penn State magazine.

Last Updated April 23, 2002