MSU undergrads Jesse Whitfield and Lana Ruvolo Grasser were 2 of only 60 U.S. students selected to present their work at the 19th annual “Posters on the Hill.”

MSU senior Lyman Briggs and Honors College animal science major Jesse Whitfield and sophomore Lyman Briggs and Honors College neuroscience major Lana Ruvolo Grasser were two of only 60 U.S. students, out of over 500 total considered, selected to present their work at the 19th annual “Posters on the Hill” event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).  Whitfield and Grasser presented their work on Capitol Hill April 22-23, and met with members of Congress, congressional staff, and federal government officials, to emphasize the importance of undergraduate research. 

“Our students are taking part in very important research projects at MSU and this event is a great opportunity to showcase their work at a national level,” said Korine Wawrzynski, assistant dean, Academic Initiatives and director, Undergraduate Research, at MSU.  “Posters on the Hill offers students the opportunity to discuss the importance of their research as well as share their personal stories and the excitement of their discoveries with members of Congress and other professionals.”

CUR’s annual Posters on the Hill event provides lawmakers the opportunity to see how federal programs and dollars make a real difference for students and faculty and to see first-hand how students have benefited immensely from undergraduate research programs.  

“I applied for Posters on the Hill because I believe that it is incredibly important for members of Congress and federal agencies to have a clear understanding of the research and education programs that they fund across the nation,” said Whitfield.  “These undergraduate research programs are not only essential to our academic institutions and to students like me, but also to professional research and ultimately the continuous growth of knowledge across the globe.”

Whitfield’s presentation is entitled, “How can doctors do a good job of informing patients without falling behind their schedules?”  Whitfield’s research for this project was done under the direction of Professor Emeritus Margaret Holmes-Rovner, MSU Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences.

“I felt ecstatic and honored to be selected to join this group of outstanding undergraduate researchers and to participate in this prestigious event,” said Whitfield.  “I am proud of the work I have helped with for two years and am looking forward to sharing what I have learned with others.  Hopefully I can make an impact on research in medical decision making.  Participating in Posters on the Hill introduced me to other undergraduate research and opened my eyes to the variety of work performed by my fellow students across the nation.  I am currently exploring careers that would allow me to spread knowledge in animal agriculture and Posters on the Hill is an incredible step along this path.”

Grasser’s presentation is entitled, “The Neuroscience of Reading:  Integrating Humanities and Sciences in an fMRI study on Jane Austen.”  Grasser’s research for this project was done in the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition lab under the direction of Assistant Professor of English, Natalie Phillips.

“I was absolutely elated and speechless when I learned I had been chosen to present at Posters on the Hill,” said Grasser.  “Participating in this event provided valuable experience in conveying the research done at the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition lab to the general public and further prepared me to discuss methodology and data analysis, as well as groundbreaking results of future work in the scientific community, as I hope to pursue a career in neuroscience research.  Additionally, I was able to gain valuable connections with fellow researchers from across the country and to learn about their methods of data analysis.  I have never visited our nation’s capital so I was very excited to combine two things I love – scientific research and travel!”

CUR is a not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes high-quality undergraduate-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Comprised of 492 colleges and universities and nearly 3,000 members, CUR selects sixty student posters to display at the United States Capitol as a means of informing Congress of critical issues researched by students.