Student Selina Davis works on a drawing while her faculty sponsor, Associate Professor of Art Joomi Chung, looks on.

Undergraduate Research Award (URA) applications due October 14

Miami’s Office of Research for Undergraduates provides funding for undergraduate research, like that done by Isabel Held (left) under the mentorship of associate professor of psychology Jennifer Quinn (right).

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. The goal of these partnerships is to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.

Students with any major can apply for these awards, as long as they have an existing research experience with a faculty mentor. Both individual and team projects are eligible. In 2018-2019, 26 of 49 URAs went to student teams.

Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may receive up to $1,000. A faculty sponsor must certify that an individual or team project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of proposed projects may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Applications for Spring 2020 projects are due October 14, 2019.  Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.


Photo of Isabel Held and Associate Professor Jennifer Quinn by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services. Photo of Selina Davis and Associate Professor Joomi Chung by Ricardo Trevina, Miami University Photo Services.

Image of Miami University's Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU). Visible are a wall with "ORU" painted on it and three people standing in a circle in a glass-walled office.

Guest post: Undergraduate experiences enhanced by participating in research

In this post, guest posters Grace Chaney and Micailah Guthrie share their experiences as undergraduate researchers.

Grace Chaney

Kinesiology and pre-medical sciences major; molecular biology minor

Grace Chaney poses with fellow members of Randal Claytor's Muscle Fatigue Lab.
Grace Chaney (front row, second from left) conducts research in the Muscle Fatigue Lab, under the supervision of associate professor of kinesiology and health Randal Claytor (back row, second from right).

There is a quote that says the squat is the perfect analogy for life: “It’s about standing back up after something heavy takes you down.”

During my junior year of high school I had two partial knee reconstructions which resulted in the end of my soccer career. After 13 months of physical rehabilitation, I became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal. Furthermore, its ability to come back from an injury even stronger than it was before.

Fitness became an area of my life where curiosity was welcomed, change was sought out and innovation was abundant. The ability to alter variables in physical activity or nutritional intake and obtain significant and measurable results is astounding to me. I quickly became mesmerized by exercise science research and its applications in exercise programming. In my senior year of high school, I pursued and completed my certification in personal training and small group fitness through the American College of Sports Medicine. Through my certification I am able to help people reach their goals through science-backed research, customized programming and compassion.

My involvement in undergraduate research at Miami University has undoubtedly been one of the most influential experiences of my academic career. It has reinforced my passion for hypothesis driven research while also expanding my interests in translational research exponentially. I have had the privilege to be a part of the Muscle Fatigue Lab in the Department of Kinesiology and Health, under Dr. Randal Claytor. We have been studying acute, local muscle fatigue and muscle fiber activation adaptation patterns from a neuromuscular and external mechanical perspective. We utilize a dynamic single-leg extension model and drop-set training template in order to better understand the muscle fatigue and muscle activation processes. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, time constraints are one of the leading reasons people give as to why they do not partake in regular physical activity. My current research interests during my undergraduate career are to study training methodologies that minimize time spent exercising while maximizing the health benefits of physical movement.

Through the Undergraduate Summer Scholars program, and with faculty mentorship, I will have the opportunity this summer to pursue a research proposal of my own creation. The Undergraduate Summer Scholars program allows students to explore the depths of their passion for research while also providing a unique and focused learning opportunity. I am sure it will be a pivotal experience in my time here at Miami. In my remaining years left here as a student I hope to be an Ambassador for the Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU). I hope to encourage other students to engage in and explore research opportunities both on and off campus. I also want to help current student researchers further develop their involvement with and passion for their field of study. I am excited to be working with the ORU, with individuals who share my passion for research and with an institution dedicated towards cultivating and encouraging investigators in so many different fields of study.

In the future, I hope to pursue a career in medicine. The medical field is the perfect culmination of everything I am looking for in a career. A career in which I can focus on compassion, service, innovation and translational research. My research interests are in intraoperative and postoperative research specifically in the field of orthopedics and sports medicine. I am particularly drawn to studying surgical repair techniques and postoperative protocol and how those can be altered to improve patient outcomes.

My love for hypothesis driven research was born out of a terrible experience but that experience built the foundation for who I am today and the kind of doctor I want to become in the future. I am forever grateful for my injuries — they are a constant reminder that you can stand back up after something heavy takes you down.

Micailah Guthrie

Public health major;  medical sociology and individualized studies minor

Undergraduate student Micailah Guthrie conducted research on the career aspirations of Black South African adolescents as part of a study abroad experience in Durban, South Africa.

This spring semester, I had the amazing opportunity to study in Durban, South Africa with the School for International Training (SIT) through their Community Health and Social Policy program. One of the main features of the SIT’s study abroad programs is that each student is able to conduct research as part of an independent study project (ISP). Based off of my experiences here in South Africa and my personal experiences, I’ve focused my ISP on understanding the personal career aspirations of Black South African adolescents and the pathways of support that they may or may not receive. This qualitative research will be conducted using the method of body mapping, which is an art-based method of data collection that serves as a reflective tool for a person to tell their narrative using their bodies. As I am currently in the ISP period of my study aboard program, I am very excited to review and share my findings.

Also this summer, I’ve have the great opportunity to participate in the Summer Research Opportunity Program at Penn State University, which is a graduate research internship and mentorship for undergraduates. There, I will be working with the College of Health and Human Development’s Dr. Jennifer Graham-Engeland, who directs the Stress & Health lab. I’ll be assisting one of her graduate students on their dissertation project, which focuses on understanding the knowledge gaps of both low and high arousal positive affect in everyday life. I will also be able to explore my own research interests, which lie within health behavior, stress, racial disparities, and personal and familial development.


Photo of Miami University Office of Research for Undergraduates by Miami University Photo Services. Photo of members of the Muscle Fatigue Lab courtesy of Grace Chaney. Photo of Micailah Guthrie courtesy of Michailah Guthrie.

Annette Bollmann explains equipment to a student in her lab.

$5.2 million funds four microbiologists’ research from Acton Lake to Antarctica

DJ Ferguson and Jyoti Kashyap work with liquid in a flask in Ferguson's lab.
Ferguson (right) and doctoral student Jyoti Kashyap

Four Miami University microbiologists — who make up the department’s new microbiology physiology research cluster — collaborate on projects with each other and with more than a dozen researchers from other universities.

Together, they are working on five projects funded by more than $5.2 million in recent grants from three national agencies. Study sites range from nearby Acton Lake to Antarctica.

Microbes — the first living creatures on Earth — are microscopic, single-celled organisms found almost everywhere on Earth including on and inside you.

  • Microbes make up more than 60 percent of Earth’s biomass.
  • An estimated 2-3 billion species of microbes share our planet — but fewer than 0.5 percent (that’s still 10 million) have been identified.
  • Microbes generate at least half of the oxygen we breathe.

From the human gut to the atmosphere

The research projects of Rachael Morgan-Kiss, Annette Bollmann and D.J. Ferguson, associate professors of microbiology, and Xin Wang, assistant professor, explore microbes in projects including:

  • Microbial engineering for the production of biofuels.
  • Manipulating microbial communities to function more efficiently for wastewater treatment.
  • Studying extremophiles to create new engineering targets for artificial photosynthesis.
  • Contributing to long-term research on climate variation in the South Pole.
  • Human gut microbes.

By the numbers:

  • Four faculty mentor nine graduate and 11 undergraduate students on these projects.
  • They collaborate with 13 researchers from 11 universities.
  • One internationally-known artist, Xavier Cortada, is working with students and researchers.

Read their stories:

Click on the links to read their stories in Miami’s Campus News.

Rachael Morgan-Kiss and Xin Wang: “Antarctic algae, alternative photosynthesis and art.”

D.J. Ferguson and Xin Wang: “Microbes, QAs, methane: Top to bottom.”

Annette Bollmann: “Microbial ‘neighbors’ improve ammonia removal in wastewater.”

Xin Wang: “Engineering microbes.”

Spotlight on undergraduate research:

These faculty each mentor several undergraduate research students. Learn more about their research at Miami’s 25th Annual Undergraduate Research Forum, April 23-24.

Morgan-Kiss: All students in her Microbial Ecology (MBI 475/575) class will present posters about their work with samples from Antarctica.

Xavier Cortada, an internationally-known environmental artist based in Miami, Florida, will meet with the class to help them design posters for a broad, general audience.

Ferguson’s lab group: Sarah Soppe, senior microbiology major and Spanish double major, and Claire Papamarcos, senior microbiology major and environmental science co-major.

Bollmann’s lab group: Conor Dolson, senior microbiology major and premedical studies co-major.

Wang’s lab group: Kaya Mernitz, senior microbiology major and premedical studies co-major.


Written by Susan Meikle, University News Writer/Editor, University Communications and Marketing, Miami University. Originally appeared as a “Top Story” on Miami University’s News and Events website.

Photos of D.J. Ferguson and Annette Bollmann by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

 

URF presenter Michael Smith discusses his poster with an event attendee.

Undergraduate Research Forum to be held April 23-24

Ashley Mickens discusses her poster with two URF attendees.
Ashley Mickens, environmental earth science and sustainability major (right), presented her poster, “Changes in Phytoplankton Community Composition Following Simulated Storm Events,” at last year’s URF.

The 25th annual Miami University Undergraduate Research Forum will be held Tuesday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 24, in Shriver Center. All are welcome to visit the forum, which has been expanded to two days in celebration of the 25th anniversary. For a quarter of a century, this event has showcased the creative and scholarly activities of undergraduates who engaged in research over the course of each academic year.

Tuesday, April 23

A plenary session will be held from 9:15 to 10:00am in Shriver Center’s John E. Dolibois Room C. The plenary will be followed by nine themed panel discussions:

  • Session I: 10:15-11:15am
    • Integrating Experiential Learning in the Curriculum (Shriver Center, Dolibois A)
    • Graduate Students as Undergraduate Research Mentors (Shriver Center, Dolibois B)
  • Session II: 11:45am-12:45pm
    • What I Did Last Summer (Shriver Center, Dolibois A)
    • First Year Research Experience – FYRE (Shriver Center, Dolibois B)
    • Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences (Shriver Center, Dolibois C)
    • Undergraduate Research and Industry Jobs (Kreger Hall 222)
  • Session III: 1:15-2:15pm
    • Solving Critical Issues in Education, Health, and Society (Shriver Center, Dolibois A)
  • Session IV: 3:15-4:15pm
    • Undergraduate Research in the Humanities I (Shriver Center, Dolibois A)
    • Undergraduate Research in the Humanities II (Shriver Center, Dolibois B)
  • Session V: 4:25-5:25pm
    • Global Health (Kreger Hall 319)

A Centers and Research Support Showcase will take place from 1:00 to 4:00pm Shriver Center’s Dolibois B. Participating organizations include:

  • Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies
  • Ecology Research Center
  • Center for Advanced Microscopy and Imaging
  • Center for American and World Cultures
  • Center for Analytics and Data Science
  • Center for Assistive Technology (MU CAT)
  • Center for Aquatic and Watershed Sciences
  • Center for Career Exploration and Succcess
  • Center for Neuroscience and Behavior
  • Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs
  • Center for structural Biology and Metabonomics
  • Center for Visual Sciences
  • Geospatial Analysis Center
  • Global Health Research Innovation Center
  • Hefner Museum of Natural History
  • Howe Center for Writing Excellence
  • Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
  • Miami Art Museum
  • Mindfulness and Contemplative Inquiry Center
  • Myaamia Center
  • Rinella Learning Center
  • University Libraries

Wednesday, April 24

Three poster sessions will be held, as follows:

  • Session A: 9:30–11:00am
  • Session B: 1:30–3:00pm
  • Session C: 3:30–5:00pm

E-posters and 10-minute talks will be presented at 9:00am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm.

Programs with times and specific locations of all presentations will be available at the event.

All Miami students are invited to present at the annual forum. This year more than 300 research projects will be presented by more than 500 students. Presentations range from faculty-mentored independent study research to large group community projects and course-related projects.

More than 2,000 Miami undergraduates work with professors on funded research each year.

The forum is sponsored by the Graduate School, OARS, the Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) and the offices of the president and the provost.


Updated 04/16/2019 to include accurate ending times for poster sessions on April 24.

Written by Susan Meikle, Miami University News & Communications and updated for 2019.  Originally appeared as a top story on Miami University’s News and Events website.

Photos by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

Two student researchers hold a piece of scientific equipment partially submerged in a large pool of water at Miami Univesity's Ecology Research Center. The part of the equipment that is underwater can be seen in the bottom of the frame. At the top of the frame, a net that covers the pool is propped up so that the researchers can access the pool.

Organization focuses on undergraduate research

CUR logo with text announcing Miami University's Enhanced Institutional Membership. Text: CUR. Miami University is an enhanced institutional member of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Learning Through Research.

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing and enhancing undergraduate research opportunities for both faculty and students. CUR is one of the few professional organizations that focuses on all areas of academic research, including the arts and humanities, biology, chemistry, geosciences, health sciences, mathematics and computer science, physics and astronomy, psychology and social sciences. This allows for high-quality collaboration between undergraduate students and faculty, regardless of discipline.

CUR exists to support undergraduate research by providing networking opportunities and other resources to faculty. Broadly defined, undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. By including undergraduates in their research projects, faculty members develop professionally while also serving the academic community.

Miami University values and supports CUR’s mission through its enhanced institutional membership, which covers all Miami affiliates’ membership costs.

Membership offers the following benefits to faculty:

Academic service

  • By writing articles for CUR publications and listservs, faculty members can share their ideas via these media and can gather new ideas by reading colleagues’ articles.
  • Faculty members can also contribute to Miami’s strong reputation with undergraduate research. By joining the CUR, faculty members are declaring their involvement with such programs.

Faculty development

  • CUR offers a chance to interact and connect with other professionals interested in advancing undergraduate research.
  • Through CUR publications and outreach activities, faculty share successful models and strategies, adapting ideas to their own research processes.
  • Faculty members can build their professional skills by attending a CUR conference, which gives them the opportunity to actively engage with other faculty and discuss issues relevant to undergraduate research.

Improved opportunities and environment

  • CUR’s mentor network is beneficial to faculty members who are interested in initiating or sustaining undergraduate research programs.
  • Through its consulting services, CUR assists colleges and universities in a range of activities, including assessing undergraduate research programs, designing fundraising programs and organizing faculty retreats with guest speakers.
  • Funding opportunities and fellowships are provided to undergrads through the CUR website.

Miami affiliates can join CUR for free

Simply follow these steps:

  • Visit cur.org.
  • Click the Join CUR link.
  • Click on Individual Membership.
  • Fill in your personal information.
  • Choose Miami University (OH) as your institution.
  • Click OK in the pop-up window confirming Miami’s enhanced institutional membership; this makes your individual membership free.

For more information about CUR, contact Martha Weber, Miami’s CUR liaison (513-529-1775).


Photo by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

Undergraduate researchers Ryan Parnell and Danille Allaire pose in front of a poster explaining their cancer research project.

Updates from the Office of Research for Undergraduates

A group of students and faculty, along with President and Dr. Crawford pose for a photo in front of a Love.Honor.Care photo backdrop in Millett Hall.
Teams of undergraduate students and their faculty sponsors were honored for their research on cancer during Miami’s Love.Honor.Care Weekend.

Cancer research awards

Thanks to the generosity of donors Cynthia Henderson and Tom and Ann Hayden, four teams of undergraduates will each receive $5,000 for their Cancer Research projects, to be carried out during the 2019-2020 academic year:

  • A Spectral Phaser Approach for Monitoring Cellular Metabolism in Turbid Media
    Conducted by Max Kreider, Mathematics major and Andy Rodriguez, Biological Physics major, under the direction of faculty sponsors, Paul Urayama and Karthik Vishwanath, Department of Physics
  • Looking at Cancer Through the Lens of the Newt
    Conducted by Biology majors Alyssa Miller and Arielle Martinez and Biochemistry major Vayda Barker, under the direction of faculty sponsors Katia Del Rio-Tsonis and Tracy Haynes, Department of Biology
  • Using Viral Genes to Sensitize Cancer Cells to Medical Interventions
    Conducted by Gabriel Ortiz, Microbiology major, under the direction of
    faculty sponsor Eileen Bridge, Department of Microbiology
  • In-silico Exploration of Microsatellite Instability Markers in cancer genomes for Osteosarcoma Patients
    Conducted by Biology majors Linh Le, Ariel Xue, and Anjali Gupta and Computer Science major Gretchen Blackwell, under the direction of faculty sponsor Chun Liang, Department of Biology

During the current academic year (2018-19) a generous donation made by Cynthia Henderson funded two research teams:

  • Decreasing Colon Cancer Cell Growth by Ketone Bodies via Metabolic Reprogramming: Potential Mechanisms for Treating Colon Cancer with Ketogenic Diets
    Conducted by Danielle Allaire, Biology major and Ryan Parnell, Biochemistry major, under the direction of faculty sponsor Claire Shi, Department of Biology
  • Analysis of Tumor Development and Supression Using an Engineered Adenoviral Vector Containing an HMGA Hyper-Binding Site in an Orthotopic Mouse Model
    Conducted by Microbiology major Shannon Ryan, Biology major Ellen Kasik, and Bioengineering Major Zachary Zampa, under the direction of faculty sponsor Michael Kennedy, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

All six teams were honored during half time at the women’s basketball game February 23 as part of the Love.Honor.Care Weekend benefitting Luna Cares.

Undergraduate Research Forum

The Undergraduate Research Forum will be 25 this year! To celebrate this milestone, a 2-day event is being planned, and several new features have been introduced to:

  • Showcase research, scholarly work, and creative endeavors across campus
  • Promote interdisciplinary and synergistic collaborations
  • Recognize the role of research centers and research support entities across campus
  • Raise early awareness of research and scholarly pathways

Tuesday April 23rd

  • Plenary session
  • Centers and research showcase
  • Themed panel discussions

Wednesday April 24

  • Poster sessions, talks, and e-posters

More details are available on the ORU website. Registration deadline for presenters is March 8, 2019.


Written by Joyce Fernandes, Director, Office of Research for Undergraduates, Miami University.

Photos courtesy of Joyce Fernandes.

Undergraduate Research Award (URA) applications due March 4

A young woman wearing a white lab coat and bright blue surgical gloves inserts a pipette into a test tube she is holding in her left hand. Her mentor, a woman who wears a white lab coat and glasses, looks on. The younger woman is seated at a counter cluttered with machinery and supplies. In the background is a bulletin board covered with paper and sticky notes.
Miami’s Office of Research for Undergraduates provides funding for undergraduate research, like that done by Rachel Mann (left) under the mentorship of associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Carole Dabney Smith (right).

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. These partnerships are meant to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.  Students may submit individual projects or team projects. Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may be funded up to $1,000. Each individual or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of specific projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Applications for summer session or Fall 2019 projects are due March 4, 2019.  Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.


Photos by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

Two student researchers hold a piece of scientific equipment partially submerged in a large pool of water at Miami Univesity's Ecology Research Center. The part of the equipment that is underwater can be seen in the bottom of the frame. At the top of the frame, a net that covers the pool is propped up so that the researchers can access the pool.

Organization focuses on undergraduate research

CUR logo with text announcing Miami University's Enhanced Institutional Membership. Text: CUR. Miami University is an enhanced institutional member of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Learning Through Research.

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing and enhancing undergraduate research opportunities for both faculty and students. CUR is one of the few professional organizations that focuses on all areas of academic research, including the arts and humanities, biology, chemistry, geosciences, health sciences, mathematics and computer science, physics and astronomy, psychology and social sciences. This allows for high-quality collaboration between undergraduate students and faculty, regardless of discipline.

CUR exists to support undergraduate research by providing networking opportunities and other resources to faculty. Broadly defined, undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. By including undergraduates in their research projects, faculty members develop professionally while also serving the academic community.

Miami University values and supports CUR’s mission through its enhanced institutional membership, which covers all Miami affiliates’ membership costs.

Membership offers the following benefits to faculty:

Academic service

  • By writing articles for CUR publications and listservs, faculty members can share their ideas via these media and can gather new ideas by reading colleagues’ articles.
  • Faculty members can also contribute to Miami’s strong reputation with undergraduate research. By joining the CUR, faculty members are declaring their involvement with such programs.

Faculty development

  • CUR offers a chance to interact and connect with other professionals interested in advancing undergraduate research.
  • Through CUR publications and outreach activities, faculty share successful models and strategies, adapting ideas to their own research processes.
  • Faculty members can build their professional skills by attending a CUR conference, which gives them the opportunity to actively engage with other faculty and discuss issues relevant to undergraduate research.

Improved opportunities and environment

  • CUR’s mentor network is beneficial to faculty members who are interested in initiating or sustaining undergraduate research programs.
  • Through its consulting services, CUR assists colleges and universities in a range of activities, including assessing undergraduate research programs, designing fundraising programs and organizing faculty retreats with guest speakers.
  • Funding opportunities and fellowships are provided to undergrads through the CUR website.

Miami affiliates can join CUR for free

Simply follow these steps:

  • Visit cur.org.
  • Click the Join CUR link.
  • Click on Individual Membership.
  • Fill in your personal information.
  • Choose Miami University (OH) as your institution.
  • Click OK in the pop-up window confirming Miami’s enhanced institutional membership; this makes your individual membership free.

For more information about CUR, contact Martha Weber, Miami’s CUR liaison (513-529-1775).


Photo by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

Exterior of a building on the main campus of NREL in Golden, CO.

Miami students place in annual U.S. Department of Energy design competition

Miami University participants who took part in the 2018 Race to Zero Student Design Competition pose with their award certificates. A banner in the background reads, "U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition" and has the Race to Zero logo.
Participants from Miami’s Team EcoEdge and Team Optimize at the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition.

Two multi-disciplinary teams of Miami University students have won first and second place awards in the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design competition.

The Race to Zero is an annual competition, open to students and faculty from collegiate institutions worldwide. The competition encourages students to work with builders, developers, community leaders, and other industry partners to meet stringent design requirements and create marketable, affordable concepts.

Seventeen students from architecture and mechanical engineering majors collaborated in the 2018 Race to Zero competition studio. The studio fielded two teams in the first phase of the competition. In March, their progress entries were selected to be among the 40 finalist teams representing 34 institutions from the U.S. and internationally. The Miami students presented their final proposals at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) April 21-22 in Golden, Colorado. Miami’s EcoEdge team won first place in the small multifamily contest. Miami’s Optimize team won second place in the attached housing contest.

The Teams and the Projects

Rendering of Team EcoEdge's "Freedom's Path to Zero" project submission. A three story, multi-unit building has covered balconies and shaded windows. Landscaping surrounds the base of the building and a person walks a dog on the lawn.
Team EcoEdge project submission: Freedom’s Path to Zero

Miami’s team EcoEdge competed in the small multifamily category. They developed an innovative design for a 60-unit building to house homeless veterans on the VA Medical campus in Chillicothe, Ohio. After touring an existing veterans housing facility on the site and learning of the high demand for veterans housing, the students were inspired to design a neighboring building to provide the additional housing. Their project, Freedom’s Path to Zero, is envisioned as a high-performance, transformative space to serve veterans’ needs with specific goals for universal design, interior environmental quality, privacy, community, and access to health resources. The ultra-low energy design is achieved through strategies of compartmentalization, high-performance building envelope, decentralized geothermal heating and cooling system with energy recovery ventilation, and photovoltaic systems. In addition to efficient, healthy and accessible apartments, the project features many common spaces where veterans can find community: An open-air roof terrace is shaded by PV panels, a ground-floor community room, outdoor patio.

TEAM EcoEdge participants:
NICOLE RUSK, Team Lead: B.A. in Architecture, Sustainability Co-Major
JACQUIE EDWARDS: B.A. in Architecture
TREVOR HAYES: Mechanical Engineering – B.S. in Engineering
MCKENNA MARTIN: B.A. in Architecture
JOAO GUILHERME NOBREGA DE CASTRO: B.A. in Architecture
ANDREW PORTEN: B.A. in Architecture
JENNY SCARBOROUGH: B.A. in Architecture
TINGYU ZHANG: B.A. in Architecture

Rendering of Team Optimize's project submission. A series of attached homes features solar panels on the roofs. Pergolas shade outdoor living spaces. Two people walk on a paved path that runs alongside the buildings.
Team Optimize project submission: The Wright Path to Zero

Miami’s team Optimize competed in the attached housing category. They developed a new vision for military family housing, choosing the Properties at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio as their site. After studying the unique needs of military families, the students designed a new prototype for attached housing centered on concepts of community and universal design. Their project, The Wright Path to Zero, challenges the traditional format of a cul-de-sac. The four-unit houses are arranged in unique linear layout that creates an internal “community garden courtyard” to promote a walkable and interactive community. The buildings are aligned along an east-west axis with windows and roof overhangs that optimize daylight inside the homes. The ultra-low energy design is achieved through strategies of high-performance building envelope, daylight optimization, ducted mini-split heating and cooling system with energy recovery ventilation, and a micro-grid photovoltaic with on-site battery storage. Residents are encouraged to monitor and adjust their energy and water usage as well as stay informed about community events through a customized smartphone interface.

TEAM Optimize participants:
MARGARET WOOLF, Team Lead: B.A. in Architecture, Urban Design Minor
SHUTING CHEN: B.A. in Architecture
ALANNA KUETHER: B.A. in Architecture, German Minor
ANDREW MALONEY: Engineering Management – B.S. in Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering concentration
DANNY NOLAN: B.A. in Architecture, Sustainability Co-Major
KELLY RICHTER: B.A. in Architecture with Urban Geography concentration
PETER WITT: B.A. in Architecture, Sustainability Co-MajorDEANGELA WEAKLEY: B.A. in Architecture
JUSTIN WRIGHT: Mechanical Engineering – B.S. in Engineering, Management Minor

The teams used energy modeling in their process to arrive at designs that meet climate-specific performance targets for carbon and energy reduction and healthy indoor air quality as established by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Passive Building Standard. Passive House guiding design principles include Super insulated walls, Air tightness, Balancing the loss and gains in energy, Minimize thermal bridging from the construction, High performance windows and Renewable energy. Both Freedom’s Path to Zero and Wright Path to Zero projects met or exceeded the net zero energy target through the provision of photovoltaic solar panel arrays that produce enough energy on-site to offset the buildings predicted annual energy use.

Both housing proposals are designed to be 100% accessible and employ Universal Design principles which seek to create a built environment that is usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone regardless of their age, status in life, ability, or disability.

The student teams were advised by industry partners including Heapy Engineering, Green Building Consulting, Prosoco, Ultimate Air, and Miller Valentine Group. The 2018 Race to Zero studio was led by John Becker with consulting faculty advisors Mary Rogero and Mary Ben Bonham (architecture and interior design), Padmakar Niskode and John Richter (mechanical and manufacturing engineering). Miami students first entered the competition in 2017, bringing home a second-place win in the multifamily contest in that inaugural effort.


Originally appeared on Miami University’s College of Creative Arts news website.

Photo of NREL main campus by NREL/DOE, used under license. Participant photo by Ellen Jaskol/NREL, DOE Race to Zero. Project submission renderings by Team EcoEdge and Team Optimize.

Aaron Davidson-Bey (center) and Tone Pryer (right) discuss their poster, "The Accessibility and Inclusion of Oxford: Is It Built for Everyone?" with Miami University president, Greg Crawford (left)

24th Annual Undergraduate Research Forum featured 330 presentations

Ashley Mickens, a junior majoring in environmental earth science sustainability and minoring in history, discusses her poster, "Changes in Phytoplankton Community Composition Following Simulated Storm Events," with two URF attendees.
Ashley Mickens (right), a junior majoring in environmental earth science sustainability and minoring in history, discusses her poster, “Changes in Phytoplankton Community Composition Following Simulated Storm Events,” with URF attendees.

The 24th annual Miami University Undergraduate Research Forum (URF) was held on April 25 at Shriver Center. The event celebrated the scholarly and creative accomplishments of Miami students, who have worked alongside their dedicated faculty and graduate student mentors.

  • 330 unique presentations were made at the forum, which included 278 poster presentations and 52 oral presentations.
  • A total of 570 undergraduates were involved in the work that was presented.
  • 147 faculty members from across the institution sponsored the presentations
  • 123 graduate students mentors were represented.
Donut chart showing student researchers by division. CAS = 375; CEC = 26; Regionals = 71; EHS = 61; FSB = 32; CCA = 5
Student researchers by division

At a luncheon, President Greg Crawford congratulated the student researchers, and Provost Phyllis Callahan highlighted the significant learning outcomes that are at the core of a research experience.

Notable among the many outstanding student presentations were “poster clusters” from the following programs:

  • The newly redesigned First Year Research Experience (FYRE) program, which is taught as a 2-semester sequence of UNV171 and UNV 172 | Mentors: Kate de Medeiros, Mark Krekeler, and Joyce Fernandes
  • Nursing | Mentor: Eliad Musallam
  • Global Health Studies | Mentors: Cameron Hay-Rollins and Paul Flaspohler
  • Bridges Scholars | Mentor: Monica Adkins

An interesting trend is that students are seeking involvement in projects outside of their major/divisional affiliation, emphasizing the appeal of interdisciplinary perspectives, and the availability of such opportunities through dedicated and creative research mentors.

Donut chart showing posters sponsored by faculty across divisions. CAS = 253; CEC = 8; FSB = 7; EHS = 42; EMSS = 5; CLAAS = 15; TOTAL = 330
Posters sponsored by faculty across divisions

Miami’s Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU), a sponsor of the URF, encourages student presenters to continue the dissemination of their work by archiving them in University Libraries’ Scholarly Commons or through publication in university journals such as COMPASS, if not in major international journals. Students can also apply for ORU-sponsored Undergraduate Presentation Awards to obtain support to present posters at regional and national conferences.


Written by Joyce Fernandes, Director, Miami University Office of Research for Undergraduates.

Photos by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.