Undergraduate Research Furthers Students’ Goals

The opportunity for KUEC undergraduates to conduct and publish their research escalates their skills and their career opportunities.

Midwestern Journal Magazine on a blue colored background with text The Midwestern Journal of Undergraduate Sciences provides undergraduate students the opportunity to publish their research.

Randy Logan, director of the biotechnology program at the KU Edwards Campus, and Jack Treml, assistant director, designed the program to provide a hands-on education. The students still take some traditional lecture courses, but their time is primarily focused on developing and implementing a capstone research project.

“Capstones are year-long research projects where students really learn to do science,” Treml says. “Obviously, faculty are available to them, but for the most part they're working alone, and it is primarily their responsibility to figure things out.”

Students fine-tune their primary research questions and design a research project with coaching from Logan and Treml during the fall semester of their senior year. Once their topics are in place, they present their project proposals during the ‘Biotech Day’ event to approximately 300 attending high school and collegiate underclassmen from the Kansas City metropolitan region. 

In the spring, they complete the research and are required to submit a paper to the KU-based research journal, Midwestern Journal of Undergraduate Sciences, a new research journal Treml launched to publish undergraduate research. Students then present their results at the end of the semester, which hosts professionals in the field who are eager to recruit new talent.

“They are not guaranteed publication in the journal,” Treml says. “It’s open to undergraduate students and their mentors around the world and we only publish the best.” 

The most recent edition includes research from recent graduates Cinthia Moncada, Ambreen Niaman, Guenaele Raphael, and Kaityn Sy. Sy’s research paper is titled “Partners in Crime: Synergistic Anti-apoptotic Effects of HCMV Gene Products in Infected Cells.” Sy was in the Honors Program at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus. She is starting medical school in the fall.

The opportunity to do undergraduate research is furthering Sy’s knowledge and her career. She says the research skills she learned at KU, her summer internships, and the mentorship she’s received, have provided valuable opportunities.   

“The research skills I gained from the KU Honors Program and summer research internship equipped me to tackle a real-world research question,” Sy says. “Ultimately, our research led us to some intriguing findings. We will be presenting our work at two conferences this month and are drafting a manuscript for publication.”

Treml says that providing the opportunity for students to gain research experience is satisfying.

“We make a point to accept or reject articles at the journal before the end of the academic year, so that the students who will be published can take it to a job interview. We’re doing this so that our students gain experience and have published work of which they are really proud.”

The current edition of the Midwestern Journal of Undergraduate Sciences is online now

This blog was authored by Patricia O’Dell. 

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