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.

Browne Project Highlighted in the High Plains Reader

Monika Browne’s debut of her “EnTRANSed: The Making of a Transnational Woman” was recently highlighted in the High Plains Reader by Taylor Blumer which is excerpted below: HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE by Taylor Blumer February 3rd, 2016 Monika Browne’s self-penned, one-person show, “EnTRANSed: The Making of a Transnational Woman,” will debut at Valley City State University’s Theater 320 on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. The show is based on Browne’s transplantation from her home in Warsaw, Poland, to the U.S. and her experiences navigating a new life here in the Midwest. “EnTRANSed” is a play on words, says Browne, an…

Dissemination, a Key Attribute

High impact learning practices such as SOAR are proven strategies for discovery, retention, and could become a component to recruiting students to academic programs at VCSU. A goal of the SOAR program is to showcase the evolving culture of research, artistry, and scholarship that is integral to the student experience at VCSU. All student work will be presented as a poster at a gala in the Spring of each year at VCSU.  Selected works will be presented at regional events. With exemplar work faculty mentors will encourage publication in journals such as the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, and influence participation…

Fall 2015 SOAR Awards Announced

The SOAR program is pleased to announce the following awards for 2016: Tanner Hovland,  Are the Multigenerational Effects of Chlorophenoxy Herbicides on Development and Growth of Drosophila melanogaster Inherited Through the Male or Female Germ Line?  – Faculty mentor Dr. Hilde van Gijssel DaveMarth Nagne, Analyzing mercury biosensors using computational modeling techniques, Faculty mentor Dr. Samuel Keasler Dallas Peterson, The Internet of Pi, Faculty mentor Dr. Curt Hill Andrei Pilipetskii, Creating a Virtual Ensemble for Online Learners, Faculty mentor Dr. Nicholaus Meyers Baylee Swenson and Jordan Bushaw, The Effects of Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality Environments, Faculty mentor Professor Susan Pfeifer  

2015 SOAR Banquet

2015 SOAR Banquet

A banquet to celebrate the current cohort of SOAR Scholars will occur on Wednesday, May 6th at 6 pm in the Skoal Room of the Student Center at Valley City State University. Special invitations were sent to the parents of each SOAR Scholar to join their children and their mentors.  Special guests included President Mason, Dr. Margaret Dahlberg, and Dr. Steven King. During the event Dr. Dahlberg announced the title “Viking Scholar” of the upcoming annual publication,  Dr. Kathryn Holleque receiving accolades for her nomination. This event is a first of what we hope becomes a tradition in acknowledging the…

Inventory of Research Activity at VCSU

To better inform the VCSU community on the scholarly works of students, faculty, and staff,  the SOAR program is hosting a web-based form to inventory activities. Faculty regularly attend conferences, host workshops, publish papers and representing VCSU with pride, and a goal of the SOAR program  is to facilitate more students to do the same. As we accumulate a listing of current and past activities, we will add to the SOAR web site a searchable database and mapping, believing as more understand the great works of our Vikings, we might attract even more participation to the program. To enter your…

Second Round Winners Announced

As a result a second Request for Proposal in March 2015, two students earned SOAR awards: Justin Tangen, mentored by Dr. Andre Delorme on “Using Side Scanning Sonar to Detect Mussel Beds in North Dakota Rivers.” Niklas Ernst, mentored by Dr. Luis da Vinha “The Unfinished Presidencies: Why Incumbent Presidents Lose Their Re-Election Campaigns.” For an up to date listing of SOAR recipients, see The announcement for the next round for proposals are anticipated in early October 2015.

Banquet for SOAR Scholars Set for May 2015

A banquet to celebrate the scholarly work of the first recipients of the Student Opportunities for Academic Research program will take place on Wednesday eventing on May 6th, 2015. The parents of the SOAR scholars are asked to join their children’s faculty mentors and special guests President Tisa Mason, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Margaret Dahlberg, and Dr. Steven King. An R.S.V.P. to Heidi Lindeman is necessary to attend, questions to

SOAR Seeking Annual Publication Title

The SOAR Advisory Committee is asking VCSU Faculty or Staff to nominate a title for an annual publication that highlights the projects and learning associated with the undergraduate research and artistry that is funded through this program. An example is the Aurora publication for the North Dakota Space Grant Program. The committee seeks a catchy, thoughtful name for a publication that will document Valley City State University student achievement for years to come. To nominate a publication name, please follow:

President Mason writes on SOAR

Undergraduate Research VCSU also has an excellent undergraduate research program called SOAR, designed to encourage faculty-mentored research, artistry, and creativity projects for undergraduates. Mentored by art professor Karri Dieken, students Cassy Gilbertson and Kaylee Johnson are developing a curriculum that will integrate 3D printers into elementary and secondary classrooms. Another undergraduate, Maxwell Kollar, is working with health science professor Hilde van Gijssel to create a bacterial mercury sensor using synthetic biology. The project aims to develop bacteria that will display a blue color when it comes in contact with mercury. This will be utilized in several labs on campus and…

SOAR Spring 2015 Program

The SOAR program announces an invitation for proposals by students for research and artistry projects for Summer and Fall of 2015. Submissions are due at 4 pm on Friday April 10, to apply follow: For more information please contact

SOAR Awards Announced for 2015

The Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR) program was recently established at VCSU and implemented as a committee effort The SOAR program is announces its student awards for 2015 listed below: Tarah Cleveland with Dr. Iqbal, on “Investigating a new approach to web vistor engagement measurement” Logen Olesen with Dr. Kilgore, on “The use of sand fraction lithology analysis to differentiate sediment layers at an archeological sight in Grand Portage, Minnesota” Maxwell Kollar with Dr. van Gjissel, on “Creating a Bacterial Mercury Sensor using Synthetic Biology” Eric Schauer with Dr. Ketterling, on “Engineering an Autonomous Ecosystem for Use in Science…

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