Current Undergrad Research

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Dr. Julie Marshall's Peanut Lab

Dr. Julie Marshall, well known for conducting and supervising student research, was asked fifteen years ago to return to LCU to supervise the growing undergraduate research program. On board, Dr. Marshall believed the research she was to conduct at LCU should pertain to the region’s agriculture, drawing her interest toward peanuts. Dr. Marshall managed to connect LCU’s undergraduate research program with a peanut research group and analytical lab.

Now, companies like J.M. Smuckers Co. reach out to the peanut research group for help answering questions and developing methods for testing important peanut qualities, such as oil content. LCU student researchers get to participate and help Dr. Marshall in her efforts to find the answers and develop new methods for real companies.

“Our dream was to involve students in research, to provide them with the thrill of discovery and true mentorship,” says Dr. Marshall. “I believe what we are doing with students is making a difference in their lives.”

Natural Sciences E-coli Research

The LCU Natural Sciences Department just completed a three year research project on E-coli and urban playa lakes, and LCU student, Nolan Rutherford, had the privilege of joining in the research all three years.

Nolan and several other Natural Sciences students collected around fifty water samples and fifty water fowl feces samples. Once collected, Nolan tested his samples with different antibiotics to determine the ecological impact of migratory birds on the water quality of urban playa lakes in Lubbock.

Through his research, Nolan discovered that 84% of the antibiotics were resistant to the E-coli. Since Lubbock citizens constantly come in contact with urban playa lakes, the research Nolan and the Natural Sciences Department have performed will contribute to how E-coli will be treated in the future.

Nolan has presented his research at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, Weber State University in Ogden, and the University of Texas. Nolan was recognized as being in the top 10% of applicants for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research posters event on the Hill in Washington, D.C., which received over 800 submissions.

Allie Beth Webb was another member of the Natural Sciences Department team who conducted research in the E-coli and urban playa lakes project. Allie has participated in gathering data, working in the lab to analyze the water samples, and the analysis work to answer the many questions that have risen since the beginning of this research project.

“I get the opportunity to use what I have learned in class and apply it to a real world project alongside my professors and mentors that I greatly respect. To be able to hear them discuss the research and analysis, and to be in the presence of these great minds is an experience that I will treasure and that has strengthened me as a person and a scientist.”

Art Education Major Presents Autoethnography Research

While attending LCU, Caitlin Brinsfield performed her senior research project on autoethnography—a form of research that involves self-reflection. She chose to study autoethnography because she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety, and wanted to determine what kind of effect this form of research would have on her daily struggles.

To begin her study, Brinsfield, an art education major, allowed herself to free paint by representing visually whatever she felt emotionally. This form of painting led to self-reflection and self-study, which steered the rest of her project. Brinsfield claims the more she worked, the more she learned about herself and her disorder, which in turn gave her the confidence she needed to separate herself from OCD and anxiety.

Brinsfield documented the authoethnographic process for her senior thesis—"My Confession: An Autoethnographic Study of Empowerment Through Self-Representation." Brinsfield presented her thesis at the National Art Education Association Conference and at the LCU Scholar’s Colloquium, where she won the Qualitative award.  The art she created during this study was displayed in her senior art exhibition titled My Confession: A Visual Representation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Current Projects

  • The effects of short-term intensive Internships
  • Necessary centrality of the Eucharist and adolescence
  • The effects of sports in a church context
  • The use of UV to reduce bacterial loads on peanuts shells/effect of UV on fats in peanuts
  • The evaluation of methods used to quantify E. coli levels in playa lake water; antibiotic resistance of E. coli isolated from playa water and Canada goose feces
  • DNA profiling of E. coli isolates from playa lake water and goose feces
  • The effect of temperature on E. coli survival in playa lake water; antibiotic resistance of E. coli isolated from resident water fowl at playa lakes
  • DNA profiling and enzyme development of the fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium for the breakdown of agricultural waste for biofuel production
  • The growth parameters of the fungus Picnoporus sanguineus for the breakdown of agricultural waste for biofuel production
  • DNA profiling of E. coli isolated from resident waterfowl feces at playa lakes
  • The optimum size of catfish for lake stocking
  • E. coli survival related to the disaccharide trehalose
  • Statistical analyses related to peanut projects
  • The survivability of E. coli in Canada goose feces related to temperature



Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014