The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

From Yik Yak to galaxies, UNC celebrates undergraduate research

A sea of posters detailing topics from the impact Yik Yak has on college campuses to the merging of galaxies in the solar system filled the Union on Wednesday during the 16th annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research.

The event featured original student research as well as collaboration efforts between faculty and students. It included more than 700 projects encompassing six core topics: health and well-being, diversity and equity, environment, fine arts, education and the U.S. and foreign relations.

Savannah Jacaruso, a senior, has been working in collaboration with the UNC School of Dentistry on an analysis of dynamic facial soft tissue through a multi-million dollar grant.

“We recruit patients with cleft pallets and track their facial movements with a series of tiny dots as they move through a series of facial movements that the patient would want to perform,” said Jacaruso.

The ultimate goal of the project, she said, is to provide information to surgeons and help them optimize results on cleft pallet repairs.

“Projects like this are so important because they help with self confidence, it’s just one of the amazing things that this study can do," Jacaruso said.

Senior Kayla Leonard conducted a study on a 19th century cultural collection in England known as the India Museum — which grew out of the colonial relationship between Britain and India but today has nearly vanished from memory. Her work was entitled “The Wandering Collection: The India Museum and Perceptions on the Empire."

“I really wanted to look deeper into the relationships between museums and empires because the relationships interest me," Leonard said.

Leonard used her project to dig deeper into what she called the "unplumbed gold mine" that is the Indian collection and examine how British culture interacted with the museum.

Current social concerns were also examined by participants in the event, such as Katie Petry, who did an analysis of how middle school and high school teachers deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the classroom — and the different ways in which sexual orientation is handled at such a young age.

“I was interested in this topic because it is important to have a safe and accepting school climate, especially if the child does not conform to the heterosexual stereotype that the school system is used to,” said Petry, a senior.

Petry’s project looked into whether schools and teachers were equipped to handle such a radically changing social climate at such a young age.

“I am trying to focus on a different policy, which would help teachers feel like they are able to meet the needs of their current students,” she said.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized the research of UNC senior Katie Petry. The story has been updated to reflect this. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

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