Student Opportunities for Academic Research

Student Opportunities for Academic Research

The SOAR program supports faculty-mentored research, artistry, and creativity projects for undergraduates at VCSU. Students interested in pursuing mentored research or artistry should consult with a prospective faculty member on the project idea, then work together on the development of a short proposal that communicates the essence and scope of the intended work, submitting that proposal by either March 10th or November 1st of each year. Working alongside a faculty mentor, being paid $1000, and $250 for expenses is a proven recipe for discovery! For perspective on what other students have worked on, review the titles and abstracts of projects…

Five Projects Funded for 2019/20

Five projects were selected for funding for research work in 2019/20: Spencer Dorsey: Seasonal Migrations fo Smallmouth Bass in the Sheyenne River , Mentor: C. Williams Matthew Lein: Construction Management System Prototype for Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, Mentor: D. DeMuth Gabrielle Myers: Rejecting Environmental Science and Evidenced-Based Policy-Making , Mentor: L. da Vinha Ethan Rasset: Determination of Age and Growth Rates of Northern Pike in Devils Lake, North Dakota via Sectioned Cleithra, Mentor: B. Anderson Ryan Wharry: Sustaining Elite narratives of National Identify in a Time of Growing Diversification of American Society, Mentor: L. da Vinha These students will join thirty one previous SOAR recipients, each project evaluated using the SOAR-Scoring-Rubric….

Student’s SOAR Proposals due March 18, 2019

Five SOAR awards are available for project work during the upcoming summer and/or fall semesters, each providing a $250 materials budget and a stipend of $1,000. Grappling with the details of a complex problem, refining techniques from similar works, innovating solutions, then reporting discoveries is at the essence of the research and artistry that the SOAR program supports. VCSU faculty, many with national and international reputation encourage you to explore the possible, and we invite inquiries on partnering on your research or artistry project. Generally project work extends through a semester, possibly the school year, students working say five or six…

Become a SOAR recipient! Proposals due Nov. 1, 2018

Do you have an idea or a project that could be developed through a focused study? Can you imagine any one of the VCSU faculty or staff working with you on your project as a research mentor? Would you appreciate a $1,000 award and $250 in materials in exchange for your extended effort and discovery? Then join the thirty past SOAR recipients by submitting a research or creative activity proposal today! Have a look at these previously funded project proposals  as a gauge  and writing standard; all proposals are judged using the SOAR Scoring Rubric. Review the guidelines and application form  and the full…

Matthew Lein Earns Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Radon is a “sticky” noble gas which can have deleterious impact to humans when breathed over long periods of time.  A signature for Radon gas is in a spontaneous emission of an alpha particle of a characteristic energy in a well understood radioactive process. Instrumenting your basement with a device to monitor Radon gas continuously is not generally an affordable project, high precision measuring devices cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Radon gas is commonplace deep underground in the stokes and caverns of the Homestake Lab, located near Sturgis in South Dakota.  An international collaboration of scientists and…

Da Vinha and Ernst publish paper on presidential incumbency

Luis da Vinha, associate professor of geography and political science, and Niklas Ernst, 2018 VCSU graduate and SOAR research grant recipient during his undergraduate career, co-authored an article titled “The Unfinished Presidencies: Why Incumbent Presidents May Lose Their Re-Election Bids” in the June 2018 edition of “Perspectivas: The Portuguese Journal of Political Science and International Relations” from the Centre for Research in Political Science at the University of Minho and University of Evora. The paper is the result of the extensive research carried out by the authors in their collaboration in a SOAR project awarded in 2017. The presidency offers…

Five Projects Selected for Funding

Five projects were recently evaluated by SOAR committee members, and all selected for funding for work in 2018/19: Benjamin Kietzman: Developing and testing  lead and mercury biosensors; a synthetic biology, Mentor: Dr. Hilde van Gijssel Cooper Folmer:  Evaluation of Age and Growth Rates of Smallmouth Bass, Pre and Post Construction of East End Devils Lake Outlet, Mentor: Dr. Casey Williams Ellen Margaret Anderson: Percent Occurrence of Historical Sample Size of Select Stream Fish of North Dakota, Mentor: Dr. Lauren Dennhardt and Dr. Casey Williams Ethan Rasset: Feeding Habits of Smallmouth Bass in the Sheyenne River, Mentor: Dr. Casey Williams Sarah Zacher: Uncovering the Silent Voices of the Past:   A…

Why Participate?

Making the most of your undergraduate experience at VCSU entails beating through the hard classes, building relationships, celebrating yours and your friends successes, and possibly, participating in what educators call a “High Impact Learning Practice.”  These include conducting research with a faculty mentor, traveling abroad to study for a semester, or partnering with other students on completing a selected sequence of courses. Conducting research as an undergraduate is really a different type of “classroom” experience, its one that is necessarily hands-on, highly interactive with faculty, and more often than not pursuing a solution to one of your own problems or…

Request for Proposals Due in March 10, 2018

Student Opportunities for Undergraduate Research (SOAR) To encourage undergraduate research and creative activities on the VCSU campus, funding has been set aside for research projects via the VCSU SOAR program. Via proposal, students can request up to $1,250 ($1,000 in salary for the student and $250 for expenses). Proposals should be written in consultation with a Faculty mentor,  these exemplar proposals providing a framework. To ensure your project has the highest evaluation, consult the SOAR Scoring Rubric to know what items to emphasize in your writing. Review the guidelines and application form and guidelines,  exemplar proposals previously submitted, and the full listing…

Engelhard selected for chemistry research experience in Prague

VCSU junior Casey Engelhard of Valley City has been selected for an eight-week chemistry research experience this summer in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Engelhard will participate in a University of North Dakota program, “International Research Experience for Students: Interdisciplinary Environmental and Green Applications in Chemistry.” His research will be mentored by Dr. Tomáš Brányik of the University of Chemical Technology in Prague and Dr. Evguenii Kozliak from UND. The research project is aimed at developing a comprehensive understanding and description of adsorption mechanisms of microalgal biosorption. The study of adsorption of specific organic molecules to microalgal biomass…

Four SOAR Projects Selected for Fall 2017

Six projects were recently evaluated by SOAR committee members, the following four proposals were selected for funding for work in 2018: Niklas Ernst: Government and Academia – A Comparative Analysis of Academics’ Political Participation Through the Electoral Process, Mentor: Dr. Luis da Vinha Daniel Machado:  Student Perception of DACA in North Dakota, Mentor: Dr. Luis da Vinha Jayme Menard: Evaluation of Mussel Age and Growth RatePost Devils Lake Outlets, Mentor: Dr. Andre Delorme  Ryan Schaner: Climate Change Model Analyses on North Dakota’s Shifting Prairie Ecosystems, Mentor:Lauren Dennhardt These four students will join a list twenty two previous recipients, each project evaluated using the SOAR-Scoring-Rubric.

Request for Proposals, Deadline November 1, 2017

Student Opportunities for Undergraduate Research (SOAR) To encourage undergraduate research on the VCSU campus, funding has been set aside for projects via the VCSU SOAR program. The total dollars that can be requested per proposal may not exceed $1,250 (maximum of $1,000 in salary for the student plus a maximum of $250 for expenses). Proposals for projects should be written in consultation with a Faculty mentor that you select.  Please consult the SOAR Scoring Rubric to know what items to emphasize in your writing. For application form and guidelines, please visit: Exemplar proposals submitted previously at VCSU can be…

What’s in the Name?

It’s  nearly 2018, the Student Opportunity for Academic Research incepted for VCSU in 2012, implemented in 2014, and now considered to be growing beyond its initial phase of innovation. The SOAR program features: VCSU faculty design, focus on student learning,  one-by-one learning is extended in a direct contact with a faculty mentor,  students practicing essential inquiry, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, and most often as a researcher in an arena never fully crossed before. To date there have been five calls to students for proposals,  where 20 projects have been funded for 22 students, those projects involving 17…

SOAR Banquet Spring 2017

SOAR Banquet Spring 2017

Celebrating the scholarly achievements of our Viking Scholars is an annual practice at Valley City State University. Each year invitations are sent to students and their parents to join, many traveling to Valley City for several hours to dote proudly of their children’s work. Photos from our Flickr site of the Spring 2017 event capture the energy of the event:

Kollar Presents Research to VC Rotary Club

Kollar Presents Research to VC Rotary Club

SOAR recipient Max Kollar presented his research work on Creating a Bacterial Mercury Sensor using Synthetic Biology as a guest of the Valley City Rotary club, meeting today near the VCSU campus at the VFW in Valley City, ND. In a 20 minute presentation, Max provided an overview of two projects, the one SOAR funded, the other a continuation of that research, and was open about the work’s challenges, then suggesting these as key to his ability to learn and hone advanced problem solving skills. Max also attributed his interest to pursuing graduate school and  professional work in the area of…

SOAR Recipient Kollar Recognized as Student Employee of the Month

Max Kollar was named Student Employee of the Month for March 2017. Max was recognized for his work doing research with Professor Hilde van Gijssel. “Max is very dedicated to the progress of his project from start to finish, [despite] many frustrations. Even so, he is quick to smile and a very pleasant addition to the Science Department. He is an independent, self-motivated employee who exhibits what we are as a learning-centered institution.” Reference:

Three Projects Selected for Award, Spring 2017

For the Fall 2016 Call for Proposals, three proposals were funded by the SOAR program for work in 2017: Tanner Clark: Spirituality and Religiosity in University Students, Mentor: Dr. Kathryn Woehl Callie Smith:  The Impact of Personal Experience in the Effects of an Empathy-Building Simulation, Mentor: Dr. Kathryn Woehl Deborah Haley: The Study of Social Class in Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Hard Times, Mentor: Dr. J. Gregory Brister These three students will join a list nineteen previous recipients since the SOAR program was established in 2014.

Ernst Represents North Dakota on Capitol Hill

Ernst Represents North Dakota on Capitol Hill

Representing North Dakota on Capitol Hill, SOAR recipient Niklas Ernst will present his research work as a poster for the 21st annual Poster on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. Niklas completed work with Dr. Luis da Vinha, entitled: “The Unfinished Presidencies Why Incumbent Presidents Lose Their Re-Election Campaigns,” his work one of sixty research projects selected from hundreds of applications, and the only representative from North Dakota this year. Faculty at Valley City State University are excited by Niklas opportunity to represent their campus and the State of North Dakota, noting that in the past ten years, only seven students…

Project Awards Fall 2016

Two students were awarded SOAR grants to work on projects in 2017: Madeline Bennett for the project entitled “(Re)Drawing Borders of Peace and War: A Political Geography of State Partition,” and will be working with Dr. Luis da Vinha. Miles Libak for the project “Unintended and Intended Consequences: U.S. Government Policy towards Native Americans,” and will be working with Dr. Anthony Dutton.

SOAR Program Fall Update

Rare is the scholarly activity that is more intellectually rewarding than research; driven by inquiry, discovery unfolds for the student who practices independence, ethics, and grit, a principle feature: development of a skill set that will be continuously beneficial to all involved. Annually, the SOAR program solicits student interest to work with VCSU faculty of their choosing on scholarly and creative works of significance, project effort estimated at 100 hours, remuneration $1,000 with an additional $250 allowed for research materials. Interested students participate by identifying a faculty mentor to vet their ideas, develop a short proposal that is submitted to…

Celebrating Research and Artistry

Celebrating Research and Artistry

Undergraduates working with faculty on research and artistry projects celebrated their work tonight at a banquet in their honor, several parents and guests joining, 42 attending the event, Dr. Steven King presiding. After socializing over dinner, Dr. Margaret Dahlberg invited VCSU SOAR recipients to briefly describe their work, identifying their faculty mentors, with the NIH INBRE researchers following. The event also spotlighted presentations made at professional meetings for the selected students in attendance. Dr.  President Tisa Mason added a strong clarity on the importance of high impact learning practices on student success, sharing her own experiences with research while studying…

Program Reflections from the Director

Today we celebrate the activities of our students who have engaged full-tilt in hands-on research and artistry prompting  imagination, innovation, challenge, and discovery! There are two key traits of the  undergraduate researcher: critical thinking and communication: There are two key traits of the most employable graduates: critical thinking and communication. Undergraduate Research alongside Artistry is a high impact learning practice that is well proven for its influence on students, but it’s not the only effective learning practice: you’ve heard of study abroad, learning communities, common reading programs, and suggest as a tractable goal for ALL VCSU alumni, that they look…

Spring 2016 Awards Announced

SOAR applications were accepted in March 2016 and evaluated by the committee, with the following two projects selected for funding: Mackenzie Bruce, “Does the herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid induce epigenetic changes in G12-Chinese Hamster Ovary cells?”  with Dr. Hilde van Gijssel mentoring. Alexis Getzlaff, “The Pickled Fish Project” with Dr. Casey Williams mentoring. We congratulate the awardees, appreciate all students submitting proposals this year, and encourage participation in the next round of proposals which is anticipated in October 2016. Since the program’s inception in 2014, 17 students have participated on 15 projects.

SOAR Spring 2016 – Request for Proposals

The SOAR program invites proposals by students for research and artistry projects for the Summer and Fall of 2016. Proposals should be developed by students in a collaboration with Faculty-mentors and submitted online by the end of the day on Friday March 25, 2016. For more information, please review the program description which includes submission criteria and submission links. Feel free to contact with any questions.

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