UGS Monthly: Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies


News on UMR's efforts to enhance its learning environment & the learning outcomes of students

UGS Monthly-Newsletter Archives

Spring 2005 Issue:

UMR students reap rewards from research

Outstanding academic advisors recognized

CERTI sponsors workshop on project centered learning

Case studies prove an effective method of equipping GTAs

UMR students tout new future for soybeans


UMR students reap rewards from research

Twenty-four students at the University of Missouri-Rolla claimed a share of $12,000 in prize money during the campus’ first-annual “Undergraduate Research Day,¿? which was held at UMR April 13.

Seventy students entered poster or oral presentation projects in four different research categories. The categories were engineering, humanities and social sciences, natural sciences, and management and information systems.

The conference was co-sponsored by Brewer Science Inc. of Rolla and the UMR Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies.

UMR students present their research findings at the Engineering poster session on April 13, 2005.

Linda Keeney presents "Brass Choir Music" in the Humanities/Social Sciences oral session.

Participants were judged by UMR faculty members on composition, achievement and presentation.

Cash prizes were awarded to oral and poster contestants in each of the four research categories for first place ($750), second place ($500) and third place ($250).

A comprehensive list of winners is available at: The following UMR students claimed first-place prizes for their projects:

Engineering oral session – Peter Cross, a senior in aerospace engineering from Ash Grove, Mo., for a project on the design and development of an unmanned aerial vehicle with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.

Humanities and social sciences oral session – Robert Haselwander, a senior in English from Villa Ridge, Mo., for a study on the husband character in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.¿?

Natural sciences oral session – Ryan Parish, a senior in computer science from Webster Groves, Mo., for a presentation titled “New technology does old tricks.¿?

Management and information systems oral session – Grant Mabie, a senior in management and information systems from St. Louis, for a presentation about customer service attitude surveys for bus and rail passengers.

Engineering poster session – Tessa Russell, a senior in mechanical engineering from Jefferson City, Mo., for her research on solar car tires.

Humanities and social sciences poster session – the group of Amy Bone, a senior in psychology from Potosi, Mo.; Rebecca Rose, a senior in history from Chamois, Mo.; Amiee Jenkins, a senior in history from Sullivan, Mo.; Konya Hutsell, a senior in history from St. James, Mo.; and Julian Pearson, a senior in history from Rolla, for a historical look at frontier news in the late 19th century.

Dr. Dee Montgomery presents the first place award to four UMR students in the Humanities/Social Sciences poster session.

Natural sciences poster session – David Heeszel, a senior in geology and geophysics from Springfield, Mo., for his research on“proterozoic orgogenic belts¿? in Southern Africa.

Management and information systems poster session – Melissa White, a sophomore in business and management systems from Ottumwa, Iowa, for a presentation about on-board customer attitude surveys.


Outstanding academic advisors recognized

The Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri-Rolla has announced seven winners of 2004-2005 Outstanding Academic Advisor Awards.

The UMR Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies solicited nominations from the campus community. A committee chaired by Jerry Bayless, associate dean of the UMR School of Engineering, evaluated the nominations and selected the winners.

The following advisors (from left to right) were recognized April 27 at an awards luncheon on campus:

– Dr. Stephen Raper, associate professor of engineering management, Outstanding Academic Advisor, School of Engineering

– Dr. Estella Atekwana, associate professor of geology and geophysics, Outstanding Academic Advisor, School of Materials, Energy and Earth Resources

– Dr. Rodney Lentz, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, Outstanding Transfer Student Advisor


Seven UMR advisors receive awards for advising excellence on April 27, 2005.

– Roberta Cox, graduate studies assistant, Outstanding Student Advisor

– Clayton Price, instructor of computer science, Outstanding Freshman Student Advisor

– Dr. Ronald Frank, associate professor of biological sciences, Outstanding Academic Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences

– Stephanie Fitch, advisor and instructor of management and information systems, Outstanding Academic Advisor, School of Management and Information Systems


CERTI sponsors workshop on project centered learning

Dr. Douglas R. Carroll is a member of the Coordinating Committee for UMR's Center for Educational Research and Teaching Innovation (CERTI).

In polling our science and engineering graduates, many of them feel that the most important and useful knowledge that they gained while a student at UMR was learned while working with a faculty member on a project. The term "Project Centered Learning" was developed because students seem to learn a lot when working on projects.

There is no clear and universal definition for "Project Centered Learning", and there is even less consensus on how to best integrate Project Centered Learning into the classroom.

A workshop on "Project Centered Learning" was held on April 25th at the Havener Center. The goal of the workshop was to discuss different approaches to project centered learning and to provide ideas of how faculty could integrate project centered learning into the classroom. The four speakers gave four very different approaches to project centered learning. There was discussion after each of the presentations and more discussion during the lunch that followed. I hope that everyone who attended benefited from the workshop.

-Dr. Douglas R. Carroll, Associate Professor, Basic Engineering

Following is a brief description of each presentation:

  • Dr. Melanie Mormile, a faculty member in the Biological Sciences department at UMR, explained how she uses small projects in the "Introductory to Biological Sciences" course to get undergraduate students interested in research. She then provides opportunities for the students to work on larger research projects in her laboratory. Dr. Mormile's definition of project centered learning is to get the undergraduate students involved in research projects, where they will gain a deeper understanding of the biological sciences.
  • Dr. Rob Stone, director of the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center and a faculty member in the Basic Engineering department at UMR, explained how he uses engineering design projects in the classroom and with the student design team projects to foster student learning. Dr. Stone showed an example of students designing a Smart Marker System for the US Army as a class project, and explained how the smart marker project helped students better understand the design methodology he was teaching in the course. He also showed how working on the student design teams helps students gain an understanding of the design process. Dr. Stone's definition of project centered learning is to use design projects to help student better understand the engineering design process.
  • Dr. Joe Ritter and Steve Shedd, chairs of chemistry and computer science respectively at Principia College, explained how the solar car project is used in educating the five aspects of the whole person: intellectual, physical, social, moral and spiritual. Participating in the design of the solar car or the management of the project helps the students grow intellectually. Manufacturing the car and participating in the competitions challenges the students physically and socially. There are moral and spiritual challenges involved with participating in the solar car project. Drs. Ritter and Shedd use project centered learning in the development of the whole person.
  • Dr. Jeff Cawlfield, Associate Chair of the Department of Geological Science and Engineering at UMR, illustrated how project centered learning is used to teach students how engineering skills can be used in humanitarian efforts. A course was developed by Dr. Curtis Elmore in the Geological Engineering department where students study about the need for clean water in Guatemala and how the lack of clean water impacts their lives. During spring break of the semester, the students in the class travel to a small rural village in Guatemala and assist with drilling wells, providing holding tanks, and other assistance in developing a clean water supply for the residents. The students learn that the technical aspects of providing clean water are only a small part of what the residents need. Dr. Cawlfield explained that humanitarian projects can help students grow in many ways.


Case studies prove an effective method of euipping GTAs

This spring the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has begun using case studies in its training of graduate teaching assistants. The concept of the case study is fairly simple, yet powerful. Faculty present real classroom situations featuring complex issues that can arise between student and instructor to graduate teaching assistants. Participants then talk about or role-play possible solutions. What makes the case study so effective is that participants have an opportunity to consider the information objectively without the pressure of consequence. This type of "practice" helps to provide experience and a mental framework for effectively handling these situations in real-life.

Participation has been phenomenal and the information very well-received. "Saying that the case studies…are very helpful would be an understatement. There are lots of things which, we as graduate teaching assistants tend to overlook/ignore during teaching. Case studies are eye-openers!¿? exclaims Suman Sanyal, a graduate teaching student in Mathematics. Howard Warth, graduate teaching student in Mathematics, also finds great value in the case study approach. Warth says, “The insights provided by studying case studies are relevant and immediately applicable.¿?

Organized by Dr. Elvan Akin-Bohner, case studies are presented one Monday a month from 4:00-5:00pm in the G-4 Rolla Building. All faculty and graduate teaching assistants are welcome to attend. Visit for a complete list of seminar topics.

An article written by professors in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics provides more information on how the case study idea generated. To read the article, click here . For other information please contact Dr. Akin-Bohner at

UMR students tout new future for soybeans

If two University of Missouri-Rolla chemistry students have their way, soybeans will one day line Missouri’s highways -- literally.

Kylee Hyzer, a sophomore from Joilet, Ill., and Kyle Anderson, a senior from California, Mo., are using what they call “green chemistry¿? to turn soybean oil into an environmentally friendly, renewable paint for trafficways.

Unlike current acrylic paints, the soybean paint is produced without any waste in a one-step, one-pot process.

Soybean research findings presented at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on April 5, 2005.

“Basically what goes into the pot comes out as the useable final product. There are no hazardous by-products that must be disposed of properly,¿? says Anderson, who spends his summers working as a chemical intern for the Missouri Department of Transportation in Jefferson City. “Also, our emulsion releases less ammonia vapor, which causes problems for factory workers who process the emulsions into the final traffic coating.¿?

The new coating system design is based on a water-based acrylic polymer prepared from the soybean oil product that serves as a major component of a traffic paint formulation. The paint would be applied about the same way as traffic paints currently are.

Under the direction of Dr. Harvest Collier, vice provost for graduate and undergraduate studies and professor of chemistry at UMR, the students are trying to remove the saturated components that currently makes the paint waxy.

“The salad oil industry already does this using expensive equipment,¿? Hyzer explains. “They slowly freeze a mixture so that the fatty parts can be separated out. We also need to be able to slowly freeze the paint so we can remove the saturated components.¿?

Their work is funded by UMR’s Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience Program, which allows undergraduate students to work with faculty on joint research projects.



Leadership Development Seminar
for UMR Department Chairs, Deans & Associate Deans
Presented by Marc T. Frankel, Ph.D., Triangle Associates

May 27, 2005
8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Missouri/Ozark Room
UMR Havener Center

Hosted by the Center for Educational Research & Teaching Innovation