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Students across all campuses to present at annual IU Undergraduate Research Conference

Dec 6, 2023

Across the state, Indiana University students are getting real research experience as undergraduates. At the IU Undergraduate Research Conference on Dec. 8, student researchers from all campuses can share and celebrate their work. It’s a university tradition spanning 29 years.

“Indiana University students are taking innovative approaches to addressing society’s greatest challenges with their research, and we’re proud of the contributions they make to bettering our campuses and world,” Vice President for Research Russell Mumper said. “The unique, hands-on research experiences they have across IU’s campuses will make them highly sought-after employees.”

This year’s conference will be hosted at IU Southeast, and Mumper will be a featured speaker. Dozens of students will attend to present their research, including Nevie Henderson, Emily Bruce and Askar Mazitov, who shared a preview of their studies.

‘Domestic Craft as Resistance Against Domestic Violence’

Nevie Henderson Nevie HendersonA senior at IU Columbus, Nevie Henderson has found a passion for art, literature and language. As a business major concentrating in marketing, she was introduced to research through her courses and studying abroad in Europe under the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

But it was an honors project for her Women and Literature course and her personal experience that sparked her latest research.

“In the process, I realized that women’s literature is not only full of examples of domestic abuse and survival, but also a recurring theme of rebellion against that abuse through domestic craft,” Henderson said.

“My project, called ‘Stitching the Narrative: Domestic Craft as Resistance Against Domestic Abuse,’ intertwines art, literature and empowerment by exploring the connection between domestic craft and its role as a form of rebellion against domestic abuse. From quilting to hand embroidery, sewing to weaving, I investigate how these practices have historically provided a sanctuary and a voice for survivors.”

Her work has inspired her goals for the future, including improving her language proficiency in Arabic and achieving a doctoral degree in comparative literature to further her research.

The positive effects of forest bathing

Emily Bruce, a sophomore studying biology, began her research by getting involved in the Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science program at IU Southeast. She said the opportunity gave her a good place to start and has since advanced to working on her own research on forest bathing.

“Forest bathing is like meditating while surrounded by plants,” Bruce said. “I want to see if different environmental surroundings significantly affect forest bathing’s effectiveness, like lower stress and positive emotion. I chose this topic because it shows how powerful plants can be.”

Through her research, Bruce said it has been surprising to learn the many uses for plants and how helpful they can be if we learn how to use them properly. She aims to learn more about the power of plants and work toward a career in conservation as a naturalist.

Bacteria aids plant growth

Askar Mazitov Askar MazitovAskar Mazitov’s research goes deep beneath the ocean’s surface. His freshman year, he worked during the summer as part of an IU Center for Underwater Science field project in the Florida Keys. He helped conduct biological monitoring, which led him to another trip to the Dominican Republic the following year.

Now, as a junior double majoring in biology and underwater archaeology in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, he is also working with the Lau Lab to research the impact that certain bacteria can have on plants.

“Lack of nitrogen in soil often limits plant growth, so legumes — plants including soybean and clover — form what are called nodules to capture rhizobia and form a symbiotic relationship,” Mazitov said. “Nodulation is a very specific process to rhizobia, and it has only been recently understood that there are also other bacteria in those nodules. I am presenting a poster on an exploratory study I am conducting regarding what effects those bacteria could have on plant growth.”

The mystery and lack of current information on the topic are what piqued Mazitov’s interest. His goal is to identify any interesting trends or strains of bacteria that have this similar benefit.

He is hoping to continue his research into graduate study and is looking forward to learning about the diverse topics his fellow students will be sharing at the conference.

“Research can usually conjure up images of some chemist swirling a flask or a physicist working at CERN,” Mazitov said. “But there are all kinds of different research in almost any field you can think of where people are studying the coolest things you’ve never heard of, and IU is part of that.”

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