June 26, 2009

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Marine renewable energy using river turbines. A Holocaust survivor's personal story. Bio-gas as a common combustion fuel. The developing trade relationship between China and Central Asia.

These are a few of the nearly 40 research projects Bucknell University undergraduate students are conducting this summer, covering a variety of academic disciplines in the sciences, the humanities and engineering.

Topics include a geophysical analysis of the Montandon water table, design of a processor board for mobile robotics, and the role of Korean soldiers in the Vietnam War, as well as an ongoing project developing an electro-mechanical fish.

"Integrating research and student learning is a hallmark of Bucknell's success in undergraduate education, and summer internships complement the year-round campus activities," Bucknell Provost Mick Smyer said. "Each summer, many students spend time sharpening their research skills alongside the faculty, becoming better prepared for the challenges they will face during their careers."

Sampling of research projects
• Greg Jones is planning to interview Murray Goldfinger, a Holocaust survivor, to document and record his life experience with nearly every aspect of the Holocaust, beginning with his time in Polish ghettos, his trip to Auschwitz, his encounter with Josef Mengele and his liberation. "Mr. Goldfinger's story is a tremendous opportunity for me as a student, as a historian, and as a person to do my part to help future generations to learn from his life," said Jones, a junior history major from Springfield, Va.

• Nhu-Y Le is exploring feminism in Indian and Chinese mythology to understand why women in contemporary Asian societies are viewed as weak and unassertive in contrast to strong mythological Chinese and Indian heroines, goddesses and revolutionaries. "I strongly believe that a nation's cultural tradition heavily influences its contemporary practices," said Le, a junior from Pflugerville, Texas, who is majoring in political science. "Understanding the cultural histories of these nations will provide insight to assessing their present gender issues."
• Justin O'Brien will use Bucknell's hydraulic flume to explore the impact of marine renewable energy (MRE) turbines on a river bed. MRE turbines harness the energy of the moving water but also can disturb aquatic wildlife and cause sediment to disperse and block sunlight. "With marine renewable energy alternatives, as well as other renewable energy sources, there are environmental impacts which need to be considered and accounted for during the design, testing and implementation stages of their development," said O'Brien, a sophomore civil engineering major from Orwigsburg, Pa.

• Renee Perry and Joseph Russell are working on two separate projects to improve drug delivery using hydrogel capsules and a polymer matrix that erodes, releasing the medication over time. Perry, a senior majoring in chemical engineering from Hamlin, N.Y., plans to "consistently create hydrogel capsules and separate them into a buffer solution that mimics the cell's environment in the body." Russell, a senior chemical engineering major from Schuylkill Haven, Pa., "is working to develop a sustained release platform to allow therapeutic drugs to release a constant amount of the drug within the blood stream, which is safer for patients, more effective, and will have reduced side effects."

• Brett Reilly will explore the relatively unknown history of Republic of Korea (ROK) soldiers and their role in the Vietnam War, including the fact that the United States paid wages to Korean soldiers, and the ROK government received billions in aid and concessions. A junior history major from Buffalo, N.Y., Reilly says his research "will aim to find the actual conduct, motivation and nature of Korean involvement in South Vietnam. Conclusions from this project will help draw a more complete understanding of the Vietnam War."

Research abroad
In addition to Bucknell students conducting research on campus, two juniors are participating in a National Science Foundation-sponsored program at the University of Cadiz in Spain. 

Allyson Marshall and Jeffrey Williams are working in the International Research Experiences for Undergraduates program that is a 10-week collaborative effort between Bucknell and the faculty of science and mathematics of the University of Cadiz in southern Spain.

Both Marshall, a bio-chemistry major from Butler, N.J., and Williams, a chemistry major from Shamong, N.J., are detailing their day-to-day experiences in the Undergraduate Research Blog. Each has been equipped with a digital camera to supplement their posts with photographs.

Read more about undergraduate research at Bucknell.

Contact: Division of Communications