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LU STAIRSTEP students will present at spring conferences

Lamar University’s Students Advancing through Involvement in Research Student Talent Expansion Program (STAIRSTEP) aims to increase the number of undergraduate students receiving bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Several STAIRSTEP students will have the opportunity to present their research at professional conferences this spring.

“Participation in these events helps expose students to the breadth of research in their fields and to develop a professional network that can help them make the transition to careers or advanced study,” said Peggy Doerschuk, professor of computer science and director of the program. “And of course there is tremendous pride in accomplishment when one’s work is recognized as being worthy of publication.”

Three physics STAIRSTEP students have worked hard the past seven months under the supervision of Cristian Bahrim, professor of physics and STAIRSTEP co-principal investigator, preparing for conferences, Doerschuk said. William Ware of Huntington gave a talk about the “Distribution of energy within interference patterns” at the 114th annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Science held in Austin on March 3-5. Ware collaborated with Nick Lanning of Orange and Brandon St. John of Wharton on the research and production of the paper. Ware presented results that investigate the problem of energy conservation in the diffraction-interference patterns. The students were selected to talk about their results at the conference after submitting a poster paper.

Nicolas Brandes of Sealy, a STAIRSTEP student from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, also spoke at the Texas Academy of Science on the “Correlation of Dakota Sandstone and Lower Mancos Shale in the San Juan Basin, Northwestern New Mexico.” He has worked with several co-authors for about a year and a half, conducting research on this project under the supervision of Joseph Kruger, professor of earth and space sciences and STAIRSTEP co-principal investigator.

STAIRSTEP physics student Nick Lanning of Orange will participate March 21 in a meeting of the American Physical Society with a poster “Measurements of chemical bonds using diffraction of electronic waves traveling through crystals.” This conference is the biggest physics event hosted by the United States with an attendance of several thousand scientists from around the world, Bahrim said.

Several STAIRSTEP mathematics students will be attending the 91st annual meeting of the Texas Section of the Mathematical Association of America on April 14-16 at the University of Texas at Tyler. Brice Perez and Lucas Castle of Beaumont, Bryan Deagle of Lumberton, Milagro Egenou of Houston and Katie Bryant of Orange will give a talk about their research and possibly participate in the Calculus Bowl. The students will discuss an object called the G-graph of a group. They have been studying many aspects of this graph and are narrowing their focus for the meeting with their STAIRSTEP co-principal investigator Jennifer Daniel, professor of mathematics and associate director of the program.

Castle has also recently been accepted to a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He will have the opportunity to conduct research full time for eight weeks this summer in a focused field of mathematics.

“I plan on pursuing a higher degree, and this experience will aid me in helping me discover where my interests lie in the mathematics field, while providing me with training in the field of research,” said Castle.

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to fund the Lamar University STAIRSTEP Project. The program gives students of all types including first-generation, low-income, minorities and women, opportunities to participate in research, work with a faculty mentor, and reach out to local high school and college students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For more information about STAIRSTEP, contact Peggy Doerschuk at (409) 880-8782 or peggy.doerschuk@lamar.edu.