Millikin University students earned top awards for their presentations at the 2013 Sigma Zeta National Convention held March 21-23 which was held on the Millikin University campus. Sigma Zeta is a national undergraduate honor society that encourages and fosters scholarly activity and recognizes academic scholarship in the natural and computer sciences and mathematics.
Kelly Commons, a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., received the award for Best Paper Presentation and Brandon Barringer, a senior from Decatur, Ill., received the award for Best Poster Presentation. Commons also won the 2013 Pi Chapter Honor Award, an award presented to one exemplary member of each nominating chapter annually at the National Convention.
"I was very happy to have received the Best Paper Presentation Award," remarked Commons. "There was tough competition for the poster and paper presentations and I applaud everyone that made the effort to present their undergraduate research. I hope that the paper and poster presentations that were given inspired others to want to present their research in the coming years."
Commons' paper presentation was titled "The effect of supplemental feeding on forest bird populations in central Illinois." The project focused on how wild bird feeding influences the bird populations at forested sites in central Illinois. Commons, along with Rebekah Carlson, a senior from Decatur, Ill., compared three forested sites where they provided supplemental food to three forested sites for which no supplemental food was available. Among 17 species of migrant and resident birds, they found few changes in bird populations to the forested sites as a whole that could be attributed to bird feeding. In a companion study, they found that the number of birds that visited feeders increased from 2011 to 2012.
"There were 14 different chapters at the convention and Millikin took home the honors in both categories," remarked Dr. Anne Rammelsberg, Millikin University associate professor of chemistry. "Sigma Zeta is an organization that promotes undergraduate research projects and that fits right in with the performance learning aspect at Millikin."
Brandon Barringer's poster presentation, titled "The Remediation of Amoxicillin from Water Using pH 3 Buffer Treated Fly-ash," was based on a previous study by the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) in 2002 that found measurable concentrations of 95 organic wastewater contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, in 139 streams across the United States. Amoxicillin became the focus of the research project as water samples spiked with amoxicillin were passed through Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) cartridges packed with fly-ash. Greater than 80 percent of amoxicillin in H2O samples was retained by the fly-ash.
"Winning the award for the Best Poster Presentation at the 2013 Sigma Zeta Convention was a great honor," remarked Barringer. "Being selected out of 28 other poster presentations is a great accomplishment as there were many other great posters spanning from natural and computer sciences to mathematics."
Additional Millikin students that made presentations at the 2013 Sigma Zeta National Convention included Cody Smith, a senior from Franklin Grove, Ill.; Katie Stoltz, a senior from Charleston, Ill.; Brianna Hogan, a senior from Antioch, Ill.; Madeline Knott, a senior from Bettendorf, Iowa; Liyang Yu, a senior from Chicago, Ill; Faaria Salik, a senior from Forsyth, Ill.; Rebekah Carlson, a senior from Decatur, Ill.; Lindsey Baxter, a junior from Rockton, Ill.; Sarah Huber, a senior from West Dundee, Ill.; Chelsea Hadsall, a senior from Macomb, Ill.; Joseph Cheeney, a senior from Kent, Ill.; and Chris Pelikan, a senior from Latham, Ill.
Commons added, "This was the third national convention that I have attended, and I was pleased with the quality of the event as a whole compared to previous years. Being able to meet other undergraduates from around the country is always a rewarding experience, especially when you get the opportunity to learn from each other."
For further information regarding Sigma Zeta and the 2013 National Convention, visit www.sigmazeta.org