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Research Conference kicks off with math and physics

Research Conference 2013
Samuel Thomas opens the conference with his presentation

The 18th Annual Research Conference began April 2 featuring presentations and panels in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science.

Held by the University of North Georgia, the event—formerly known as the Honors Conference—is a venue for undergraduate researchers to present their projects while receiving feedback from judges, professors, and peers.

"One of the biggest benefits in having a team prepare a presentation for this conference is in getting to know them on a personal level," said Dr. Royce Dansby-Sparks, assistant professor of chemistry, and mentor of the student team presenting research in chemistry. "Writing letters of recommendation for students you have come to know throughout their endeavors on a research project adds a great deal of substance, and this really helps the students differentiate themselves from their peers when applying for graduate programs."

Seniors Anna Davis and Jon Hayes presented their project, "The Electrochemical Deposition of Sol-Gels for Spectroelectrochemical Sensing," to two judges and assorted students and professors in the opening hours of the conference.

"This type of project really bolsters our analytical skills and helps us address future research problems with more confidence and knowledge," Davis said. "It's also great for applying to doctorate programs, as they look very fondly on this type of experience; it shows them that we are prepared and able to think in analytical dimensions."

Davis and Hayes, both chemistry majors who have already been accepted into multiple graduate programs, chose to explore methods by which they can detect chromium VI—a compound toxic to the human body that can cause cancer—in drinking water.

"Chromium VI is toxic whereas chromium III is used in the body," Hayes explained. "Our method of detection employs three modes of selectivity, and is helpful in trace metal ion detection. It can be applied on a very small scale, and because the FDA has placed restrictions on the total level of chromium in drinking water, this process could be useful in helping to differentiate between chromium VI and chromium III in drinking water."

The conference continues through Thursday, and will wrap up at 6:30 p.m. with the Closing and Awards Ceremony.

A complete list of the conference and presentations can be found here.

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