Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA sciences and mathematics undergraduate students present research at state and national conventions

March 21, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Undergraduate students at Stephen F. Austin State University have opportunities to participate in research with faculty members, including Dr. Alyx Frantzen, associate professor of chemistry, and to present that research at professional conferences. Frantzen, center, is pictured with SFA students, from left, Christopher Franclemont, Tim Turner, Carmel Tovar, Megan Jenkins, Jamie Weihe and David Hauer.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Six undergraduate students in Stephen F. Austin State University's College of Sciences and Mathematics presented research at the 119th Texas Academy of Science this month, and two students are slated to speak at a national convention in April.

"These are research projects the students have been working on as undergraduates in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. As a department, we feel research is a major part of the students' education and feel it is important not to just do a project but also present the results of that project," said Dr. Alyx Frantzen, SFA associate professor of chemistry. "For many of the students, this is their first time presenting their research either in oral or poster format. The TAS meeting is a wonderful place for this first exposure to presenting research."

Four of Frantzen's chemistry students attended the convention, including Timothy Turner, who analyzed vapors released by the heating of e-liquids; David Hauer and Megan Jenkins, who conducted anion and metal analysis of mineral springs in Lampasas, Texas; and Celeste Keith, who presented findings on the influence of structure on combustion of organoclays.

Two additional sciences and mathematics students presented research at TAS. Christopher Franclemont, a student of Dr. Kefa Onchoke, SFA associate professor of chemistry, discussed the determination of element concentrations in fish purchased from stores in Nacogdoches. Amanda Raley, a student of Dr. Russell Franks, SFA assistant professor of chemistry, presented on the synthesis of fatty acid furfuryl ester mixtures.

"Many students have a lot of anxiety about speaking in front of people," Franks said. "This is normal and is completely understandable. The best way for them to overcome that anxiety is to have them speak in front of people as much as possible.

"Opportunities for undergraduate students to make presentations at conferences like this give students experience at speaking on a technical subject in their major in front of an audience of people they don't know," Franks added. "As the students prepare for the presentation, they learn how to present their results in a concise, efficient and effective manner. These are valuable skills that will serve the students well once they graduate from SFA."

Jamie Weihe and Carmel Tovar, students of Dr. Odutayo Odunuga, SFA associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will present at the national Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, California, April 2-6. The title of their presentation is "Metal affinity chromatography and protein refolding techniques: some observations and strategies."

"Undergraduate student conference attendance is beneficial to all concerned: the students, the professors and the university," Odunuga said. "Preparing for presentation at conferences takes a lot of effort and time, but students develop personal planning and other essential skills that will serve them the rest of their life. When students attend a conference, they gain a wider view, understanding and appreciation for science and research.

"For the professors, benefits of conference attendance include opportunity to network and collaborate with colleagues from other institutions, publish in conference proceedings and peer-review their research," Odunuga added. "Promoting conference attendance is an excellent opportunity for the university to showcase its students and intellectual activities to other institutions, industry and the world in general."