Students excel in science, math and more at annual showcase

DePaul Newsline

What do charcoal and gardening have in common? Want to know more about T-Rex’s cousin, the coelurosaurian? Ask one of the 80 DePaul students who participated in the 15th annual Science and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Showcase last fall.
Each year, the symposium gives students in the College of Science and Health, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and College of Computing and Digital Media an opportunity to present their research projects to the university community. From chemistry and nutrition to paleontology and physics, students in the showcase demonstrate their academic excellence and passion for the sciences.
“This showcase helps students determine if they want to pursue a research-based career and, if so, what path they actually want to take,” says Victoria Simek, the associate director of STEM Studies at DePaul University. “Beyond that, students are able to work closely with faculty members and science-related organizations across Chicago, such as Lincoln Park Zoo, The Field Museum and others. This gives them a taste of how professional collaborations work outside of a classroom setting.”
Here Newsline breaks down a few of this year’s research projects:
Nurturing nutrition at the Shedd Aquarium
For many, charcoal and gardening may not seem to go hand-in-hand. But for Madelyn Draftz, a DePaul senior studying biology, the pair makes perfect sense. As part of the College of Science and Health’s Dean’s Undergraduate Fellowship, Draftz spent 11 weeks at the Shedd Aquarium assessing the effects of integrating biochar into garden soil.
Biochar is a type of charcoal that is rich in carbon, used in soil amendment and thought to increase the nutrition, health and production of crops. Rather than importing food products for some of its animals, the aquarium grows its own, ultimately saving money and providing animals with more nutritious meals.  
In addition to working to determine if biochar could increase the nutrition rate and production of food, …

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