The number of students participating in East Tennessee State University’s annual Appalachian Student Research Forum has increased 40 percent over this past year.
“I believe this is a reflection of the increased interest in research on campus,” said Bill Duncan, vice provost for research at ETSU. “It’s one of our strategic priorities, to grow our research activities.”
The forum was held at Millennium Centre this year. Duncan said there were 186 student research projects presented at the forum.
Duncan said it is good to get undergraduate students involved in research so they understand the process. He said research projects also help students’ educational process and complements the school’s educational programs. Some students may even be encouraged to become researchers for a career.
“Many of these things our students are involved in here could impact the field of health, understanding of various issues in psychology,” Duncan said.
Jared Cranmore, a senior majoring in biology/anthropology, did a research project dealing with neurotrophic factor adaptations to oxidative stress. The simplified explanation of this research is that neurotrophic factors are molecules that help brain cells survive and grow. Oxidative stress refers to the accumulation of oxygen molecules in the brain tissue, which does damage. Oxidative stress has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Cranmore sought to understand how certain cells behaved under oxidative stress.
This research shed light on how cells called astroglial cells were affected by oxidative stress, which could have implications for Alzheimer’s research.
“I’d like to look into doing more things like this,” Cranmore said. “I think it’s very interesting. It’s very helpful.”
Gorica Svalina, a junior majoring in microbiology, looked at tissues from mice that had been in space to see how those conditions may affect fertility.
She found that some effect was caused by either gravity or radiation, though it was unknown which.
“This could have an impact on the fertility of women that went into space,” she said. “It’s interesting to see what happens, what physiological changes happen while in space.”