CSU, Chico News

Student Researchers Going to Washington, D.C. for ‘Posters on the Hill’ Event

Date: 05-06-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affrairs

Kevin Parsons, now a microbiology graduate student, will travel with Joe Greene, professor in Manufacturing Technology, to Washington, D.C., this week to take part in the 13th annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. Former student Paul Morris, who graduated last spring, is now attending the Uniformed Services University of Health Services, in Bethesda, Maryland, and will fly in to meet Parsons and Greene.

Parsons and Morris presented their poster and met with Congressman Wally Herger on May 5. They will meet with Senator Barbara Boxer today, May 6.

Parsons and Morris took first place in the CSU Student Research Competition a year ago in May with their project “Use of Brewery Waste for the Microbial Conversion of Carbohydrates to Lactic Acid.” In the competition, they topped 18 other entrants from other CSU campuses with the quality of their research and their presentation.

Their project showed promising results in using industrial or agricultural waste, such as yeast or rice hulls, as a medium for bacteria to produce lactic acid, which can be made into biodegradable plastic.

The Council on Undergraduate Research sponsors the Posters on the Hill event so that members of the U.S. Congress who provide funding for education have a clear understanding of the programs they fund.

Parsons and Morris had to present an abstract of their research to be chosen as one of approximately 60 other undergraduate research projects. They received round trip airfare and two nights lodging to participate from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Biology professor Larry Hanne and chemistry professor Larry Kirk supervised Morris and Parsons for over a year while they conducted their research. Mechanical engineering professor Joe Greene, who oversees the University’s Polymers Manufacturing Lab, collaborated on the project and obtained funding from Sierra Nevada Brewery Co. and the California Rice Research Board to support the work.

Parsons and Greene will return to Chico on Thursday, May 7. For more information on the trip or the research, you can contact Greene at 530-898-4977, or phone Parsons at 530-828-0909.