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June 26, 2024

MSU undergraduates win grand prizes for research

Two presentations honored for outstanding research at 2024 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum

The 26th annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, or UURAF, which was held in April, provided Michigan State University undergraduate students the opportunity to showcase their scholarship and creative activity. After more than 1,000 students representing 12 colleges made over 700 presentations covering 32 different subject areas, two grand prizes were selected. 

Coral Brock holds a certificate from UURAF along with Michigan State University President Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Lynmarie Posey, associate dean for Undergraduate Studies in College of Natural Science
Coral Brock (middle) at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum 2024 Awards Ceremony with Michigan State University President Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Lynmarie Posey, associate dean for Undergraduate Studies in College of Natural Science. Photo courtesy Undergraduate Research

“We are always amazed at the quality and variety of research conducted by MSU undergraduate students, especially this year with a record-breaking registration of 1,000 students for UURAF,” said Brian Keas, director for Undergraduate Research. “This level of participation made the selection of Grand Prize winners an exciting challenge.  We are thrilled to announce these outstanding examples of undergraduate research at MSU.”

In the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, category, Coral Brock’s “Root and Shoot Acylsugar Screening Across the Solanaceae Using LC-MS” was honored. Brock’s project focused on metabolites in plants like tomatoes and potatoes that deter insect herbivores.

“I am honored to be recognized for the UURAF Grand Prize in STEM,” said Brock, who graduated from MSU this spring. “I am grateful for the opportunity to present my research alongside hundreds of other amazing student scientists. It was such a fun experience to showcase all the hard work I’ve been doing for the past year.”

Gracie Rudolfi, Natalie Liliensiek and Lorraine Inman won the grand prize in the arts, humanities and social sciences category with their project, “The Impact of Foregrounding on Aesthetic Experience: An Analysis of Real-Time Responses to Sonnets.” Rudolfi, Liliensiek and Inman’s presentation investigated how literary devices like metaphors, alliteration and more impacted the aesthetic experience of a reader.

Lorraine Inman, Natalie Liliensiek and Gracie Rudolfi pose in front of their poster at UURAF in April on the floor of the Breslin Student Events Center
Lorraine Inman, Natalie Liliensiek and Gracie Rudolfi pose with their poster. Photo courtesy Undergraduate Research

“It means a lot to be honored as a UURAF Grand Prize winner,” the team said. “We loved having the opportunity to present our research after spending countless hours of writing and combing through data. Because we have more plans for continuing this research in the future, we’re excited to hopefully continue engaging people with our project and with the interesting facets of poetry. We hope that this win, and our project in general, shows other humanities students that there is room for them in research in any field, and that interdisciplinary labs, like our Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition Lab, do exist and are a wonderful opportunity to work with students from any major.” 

The grand prize winners received a $500 award.

The 26th UURAF was held onsite at the Breslin Student Events Center and online at Symposium. The presenters were mentored by over 600 faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and government-industry partners. Cosponsored by the Undergraduate Research Office and the Honors College, the yearly event highlights the impressive and impactful research portfolio of MSU’s undergraduate students and brings together an intellectual community of students to share their work.

The Office of Undergraduate Education also hosts the Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences, or Mid-SURE. The 14th annual Mid-SURE will take place Wednesday, July 24, at the STEM Teaching and Learning Facility and online.

By: Liam Boylan-Pett

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