What’s it take to be a SOAR Mentor?

At VCSU the Student Opportunities for Academic Research program was established to encourage and support student research projects. Undergraduate research is among several high impact learning practices encouraged by the AAC&U. Since the program’s inception in 2014, awards have been hosted through eleven academic departments by twenty six faculty mentors working directly with students on forty two undergraduate research projects. A goal of the program is to involve each department, and to double the number of involved faculty. For some of us, research work is like the back of our hand, we just have to be involved, while others wonder how…

Proposals for Undergraduate Research Invited

The Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program curators invite proposals from undergraduates to pursue research or artistry projects alongside a VCSU faculty mentor of their choosing. Past projects include: Justin Tangen, with Dr. Andre Delorme, on: Using Side Scanning Sonar to Detect Mussel Beds in North Dakota Rivers Callie Smith with Dr. Kathryn Woehl, on: The Impact of Personal Experience in the Effects of an Empathy-Building Simulation Baylee Swenson and Jordan Bushaw with Professor Susan Pfeifer, on: The Effects of Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality Environments Sarah Zacher with Dr. Steven King, on: Uncovering the Silent Voices of the…

Projects funded from Spring 2020 RFP

Four projects were selected for funding for research work in 2020/21: Sage M. Longtin: Diatom-inferred water quality assessment of two basins in Lake Sakakawea, ND;  Mentor Sabrina Brown, Science Department Quinton Vonesh: An  Analysis on the Utilization and Optimization of Post Activation Potentiation for College Athletes; Mentor: Sarah Milner, Kinesiology and Human Performance Department Heather Lobley: Changing Keys, An investigation of the differences between the pianos of well-known composers and the modern piano; Mentor: Kenneth Jimenez, Music Department Breean Hanson: Aquatic Invertebrate Diversity and Abundance Depending on Habitat Within the Cottonwood Lake Study Area; Mentor: Bob Anderson  

VCSU undergraduates Lein and Blomquist publish computational physics research paper

Valley City State University students Matthew Lein and Rachel Blomquist have produced a paper, “Teaching Computation in Introductory Physics,” which has been accepted for publication in the Intermountain Engineering, Technology, and Computing (i-ETC) 2020 Conference Proceedings and IEEE Xplore Digital Library. Lein, a software engineering major, and Blomquist, a mathematics education major, are both minoring in physics at VCSU and enrolled in the University Physics II course taught by David DeMuth, Ph.D., during spring semester 2020. At the beginning of the semester, while studying gravitation, Lein and Blomquist noted a possible error in an approximation used in the solution of…

Request for Proposals for March 10, 2020

The Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program invites you to submit a proposal to conduct research alongside your favorite faculty member. The work that you propose should be significant and advanced, generally requiring 100 hours of effort. In exchange, you will set foot on a path of discovery, have available $250 for supplies, and earn $1,000. Start by having a look at what other VCSU students have done in past works, particularly the project abstracts so as to get a sense of scope, peruse a few sample proposals, and finally review the scoring rubric that our project reviewers will use…

SOAR Projects Announced for Fall 2019 Competition

Three projects were selected for funding for research work in 2020: Zander Dale: No REZervations: Creating Navajo Pop Art, Mentor: Gratia Brown Rose Gaffner: An Examination Throughout the Years: Societal Trends and Billboard Top 5 Charts 2006-2016, Mentor: Emily Fenster Charlotte Huschka: A Student Approach to Retention on a Micro Level: Why do Students Stay, Mentor: Tammy Katuin These students will join thirty six previous SOAR recipients, each project evaluated using the SOAR-Scoring-Rubric. SOAR projects are solicited in at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters, the program incepted at VCSU in 2014.

2020 Request for Project Proposals

Have you been working on an idea that deserves more careful systematic development? The Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program at VCSU is a faculty driven mechanism to encourage undergraduates to engage in innovative research or creative artistry projects. Twice annually a call for proposals is broadcast to students inviting their identification of a faculty mentor and the submission of a five page proposal outlining their idea and work plan which can extend over a period of one year. Just after the proposal deadline of midnight on November 1st, the SOAR Advisory Council will evaluate the submitted project proposals…

Zacher earns recognition for SOAR grant research at history conference

VCSU alumna Sarah Zacher ’18 earned the Ernest Teagarden Award (Professional Category) for her paper “Uncovering the Silent Voices of the Past: A History of the Fort Totten Boarding School,” presented at the Dakota History Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D., in April 2019. Her paper focused on the history of the boarding school and the impact it had on the Native Americans who attended the school. Zacher received a VCSU SOAR (Student Opportunities for Academic Research) grant in spring 2018 to work on her research paper with faculty member Steven King. The SOAR grant requires the recipient to present the…

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….

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…

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…

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