Research Highlight: Andrew Droubay

by arowsey on April 20, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Droubay concerning his research on using virtual reality training to help the National Forest Service fight fires. The research led to his winning of first prize for student research at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges: Southeastern Regional Meeting for “Interactive Fire Spread Simulation”.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

My research involved creating a virtual reality simulation that would allow forest firefighters to train in a variety of environments. The main research challenge came from tying in scientific models to make the simulation as accurate as possible.

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

I started working on this topic in particular because I am very passionate about doing work for social good. My simulation is one step of a research process that we hope will save lives down the road. I am enthusiastic about anything that gives me the opportunity to use my abilities for real change.

Why did you decide to do research?

I decided to do research generally because I like to challenge myself. I could always get a job doing some simple programming, but I want to push myself. In addition, I think there is a lot of benefit to the research process, and I love putting out work that no one has done before.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

My favorite part of the research is when we were first able to bring real-world fire data into our simulation. It was a real confirmation that what we were doing was possible, and it was inspiring to see the fire move in the computer in real-time.

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

I would highly recommend any new student to do research. The skills and confidence you develop while working on a large-scale project are invaluable and will be beneficial no matter your intended career path.

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Research Highlight: Hannah Petty

by arowsey on April 12, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Hannah Petty concerning her research experience with Dr. Lassiter on examining the effects spironolactone has on the embryological development of zebrafish.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

For my research project, I look at the effects spironolactone has on the embryological development of zebrafish.  I use three different concentrations as well as a control to test what effects the chemical has on the heart rate, heart area (atrium & ventricle separately), blood vessel diameter, mortality (over 7 days), eye width, eye length, interocular distance, and head length of the fish.

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

When I was a freshman, I was new to Dr. Lassiter’s lab; therefore, I was pretty unaware of protocols and things of that nature.  One of the seniors at the time, Erin Kosmowski, was working on her senior project and needed help.  She taught me the necessary techniques to measure the effects of the chemical.  After she graduated, I continued with the project in an effort to have enough data to eventually publish.

Why did you decide to do research?

I am hoping to attend medical school after completing my undergraduate degree.  With that, I knew I needed to involve myself with every opportunity available.  When I was researching those opportunities offered at RC, I found information on “Research Fellows.”  I was really excited about the opportunity to conduct research for both course credit and pay in addition to the experience I would have gained after four years of undergraduate research.  So, between those three aforementioned benefits, I felt doing research would really help me on both an undergraduate and potentially graduate level.

How has your experience with your research advisor been?

My research experience with my advisor has been absolutely phenomenal.  Dr. Lassiter is an easy person with which to both work and talk.  Additionally, he is the king of spreadsheets and is more organized than you could ever imagine.  I am also a member of the swim team, so my research productivity during the season is very different than pre or post season; thankfully, Dr. Lassiter, is extremely tolerant of my weird schedule which makes it significantly easier to work in his lab.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

My favorite part of research thus far has been using the fluorescent scope underneath Massengill.  A couple of the lines of zebrafish we have are genetically modified to have parts of them glow under certain light.  For example, we have a line of fish who’s hearts glow green; we have a line of fish who’s jaws glow green; and we have a line of fish who’s blood vessels glow red underneath the fluorescent scope.  These fish, to the naked eye, appear to be perfectly normal; however, when they are put under the fluorescent scope, they are clearly unique.  I absolutely love watching their hearts beat and being able to differentiate between the atrium and the ventricle—I think it is so cool!

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

If you’re an incoming freshman, do everything you can to involve yourself in what you love.  I have always had a passion for science, so I wanted to do research in the biology field.  It seems a little scary when the upperclassman are discussing some of the more advanced protocols, but I promise it is not as intimidating as it seems.  For both freshman and current students interested in research, don’t be afraid of scheduling conflicts!  My schedule has been extremely difficult to work with and around due to my athletic commitment, but professors are really understanding of students who want to really explore the opportunities RC has to offer.  Dr. Lassiter, for example, is both my research and academic advisor, so he deals with me all the time and knows the complexity of my schedule; however, he has never discouraged me from pursuing opportunities that interest me.  The encouragement provided by the faculty make everything ten times easier, as they want you to succeed just as badly as you do!  Also, as a last tip, always ask questions!  No one will judge you; the majority of the time, someone has the exact same question you do!

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Research Highlight: Stephanie Zemba

February 20, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Stephanie Zemba concerning her research experience with Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Mehrotra on examining interfaith dating relationships. Can you describe what your research project is about? Our research project examined interfaith dating relationships among college students, including students’ experiences, attitudes or views, expectations, and apprehensions. Drs. Kristi Hoffman […]

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Research Highlight: Ryan Denholm

February 4, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan Denholm concerning his experience participating in an independent study with Dr. Bañuelos Montes which focused on actions committed by the Guatemalan military during the Cold War. Can you describe what your research project is about? My research project is about atrocities committed by the Guatemalan military during […]

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Research Highlight: Lauren Powell

November 9, 2020

I had the opportunity to speak with Lauren Powell concerning her experience presenting research she conducted with Dr. Bucholz at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Annual Convention in New Orleans.  Can you describe what your research project is about? The most recent research Dr. Buchholz and I have conducted was a study about […]

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Research Highlight: Jamie Obremski

September 7, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to recent RC grad Jamie Obremski about her research experience. She had the opportunity to present her research at the Southeast Decision Science Institute (February 2020). Why did you decide to do research? I am a part of the Honors Program here at RC and this research is a […]

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Research Highlight: Therese Weidenkopf

March 17, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Therese Weidenkopf concerning her research experience with Dr. Hughes concerning the development of a methodology for the synthesis of the semiconductor nanocrystal CIS. Can you describe what your research project is about? My research involves the development of a methodology for the synthesis of the semiconductor nanocrystal CIS. […]

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Research Highlight: Amber Gregory

October 12, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to recent RC grad Amber Gregory about her research experience. She presented her research at the Southeast Decision Science Institute earlier this year (February 2020). We researched how Instagram affects one’s personal wellness, that being, anxiety, depression, tendency of eating disorders, and self-confidence. The members of our group picked […]

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Research Highlight: Savannah Faith Clark & Christian Sanchez

February 27, 2020

Savannah Faith Clark and Christian Sanchez are current juniors at Roanoke College. They had the opportunity to present their research at the Virginia Academy of Science Undergrad Meeting. I asked them questions to get an insight of their experience presenting and what conducting research at Roanoke College is like. Can you describe what your research project […]

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Research Highlight: Stephanie Zemba

February 20, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to Stephanie Zemba a current junior at RC. Not only did she have the opportunity to conduct research in the summer, but she also presented her research at MARCUS (Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship). I asked Stephanie a few questions to get her insight about what her experience […]

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