April 26, 2001

Students Present Their Research During Forum

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Cornellians had the chance to present their research projects yesterday at the Sixteenth Annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum yesterday in Rockefeller Hall.

Keynote speaker Dr. Todd K. Rosengart, associate professor of surgery at Northwestern Medical School, also shared his experiences in medical research.

Sponsored by the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board, the forum is held to encourage students to get involved with research as well as to showcase the work many students pursue throughout the year.

Students presented their experiments along the ground floor of the building. With display boards, the students discussed the models that accompanied their projects.

“I’ve learned how to approach a theory and put it into an experiment by setting up everything,” Gabriel Benel ’02 said.

Benel is researching how the mass and volume of cylinders affects their movement in specially-designed water tanks.

“It’s a good chunk of analysis. You have to build everything and it takes a long time. The set up takes up as much time as the analysis,” Benel said about preparing his project. “There is a lot of excitement in seeing the theory change into actually proving a theory.”

The Marilyn Emmons Williams Award for Undergraduate Research was given during the forum to Dr. Bruce Monger, a senior research associate in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

“It’s good to give them [the students] an idea of what it means to be a scientist. I have a completely fun time teaching students, showing them things, giving them the world,” Monger said.

Rosengart also emphasized the need for confidence with research.

“The only thing that limits your undergraduate research is your imagination and how much you believe in yourself,” he said. “If you do your homework and do it right, you have to believe in yourself.”

Rosengart previously served an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College in New York City.

Rosengart then used his own experience as a doctor and a researcher to highlight the research experience.

During his speech, Rosengart discussed his pioneering experiences with angiogenesis, the study of growing blood vessels.

“It is a drug delivery strategy,” Rosengart said about the process which may be a choice for patients within the next six years.

With this process, genes are injected into the heart to produce blood vessels, bypassing blocked ones.

Rosengart discovered this idea through one of his mentors during an internship at New York Hospital. This mentor noticed that people affected by heart attacks often grew new blood vessels that bypassed the damaged ones. He suggested that Rosengart research which chemicals that could be injected into a patient’s body to stimulate this process.

A few years later, Rosengart and his associates developed the angiogenic gene therapy procedure.

One audience member expressed her amazement over the these discoveries.

“Science is advancing so fast. It’s amazing that in fifteen years his mentor can think of this and [he] can make it come true,” said Samantha Morley, a technician in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.

“I saw a larger picture of what we can do with our research,” Morley continued about the event. “It’s good to have a forum for undergraduates so that they can have someone in the field to talk to, to inspire them.”

Archived article by Kelly Samuels