April 20, 2006

Cornell Undergrads Show Off Research

Print More

The Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) held its 21st annual undergraduate research forum yesterday evening. Approximately 192 students participated in this showcase, which also serves as a liaison between the community and student research. Colorful mounted posters lined Duffield’s atrium as students, faculty and Cornell community came to speak with and listen to students as they presented their ongoing research in a particular field of interest.

Almost every academic subject was represented at the forum, from the sciences including biology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics to the social sciences and humanities including economics, communications, psychology and Asian studies.

The evening began with a keynote speech by Artemio Castro, an employee of Proctor and Gamble’s Home Care New Business sector. Castro, currently responsible for launching novel Febreze and Mr. Clean products, spoke about the importance of innovation and how it can be perfected in research and development. According to him, “research and development” as well as “discovery and innovation” are involved in an “iterative circle” analogous to the scientific method. This circle consists of a series of ordered steps including observation, data analysis, discovery, knowledge, connections, invention and implementation. For Castro, the scientist who follows this circle and integrates curiosity and perseverance within it is one who will be successful in innovation.

Castro’s final message, “always strive for more,” seemed to be evident in the poster presentations of each student. Every poster exhibited not only the essential elements of a scientific paper, but also deep commitment, passion, and diligence that seemed to resonate in each participant.

One such project entitled, “Improvements to Walking Robot toward Goal of Efficient Bi-Pedal Locomotion” dealt with creating a dependable and competent walking robot. Presented by Sarah Bates ’07, the unique technology of this robot utilizes a ‘passive breaking system’ that allows it to start and stop automatically. The original robot had been modified several times and used for similar research purposes. Mike Tosto ’06, a member of that project team, explained that the short term applications of the walking robot would involve making the robot “walk long distances and set the walking distance record.” As for long term uses, this technology could be replicated and applied specifically to the development of prosthetics or more generally to the field of robotics.

Moataz Gadalla ’07 was scheduled to give an oral presentation in addition to his poster presentation on his project entitled “Discovery of a Regulatory Site on Beta-Amyloid Peptides.” Gadalla discovered that two RNA polymers that bind to a beta-amyloid peptide were structurally and functionally similar. This peptide is known to be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and thus Gadalla’s research has great significance in the development of a potential therapeutic for Alzheimer’s. In fact, Gadalla is in the process of filing a patent for this work.

According to Gadalla, research is “like music [you] need to rehearse a lot [and] get your act together, then it becomes easy!”

Archived article by Sanika Kulkarni
Sun Staff Writer