Symposium recognizes students’ research


Portland State hosted the first annual research symposium of Sigma Xi’s Columbia-Willamette chapter yesterday.

Eighty students from PSU and four other universities in Portland gathered to exhibit posters on research in the areas of behavioral science, biology, earth and environmental science, engineering and applied science, mathematics and physical science (which includes physics and chemistry).

Students stood near their displays, chatting with Sigma Xi judges, as well as with students and interested professors.

Posters such as “Positive and Negative Predictors of Illness Disruption: A Prospective Study” and the “Effects of Density Mediated Destruction on Cod and Salmon Remains from a Prehistoric Archaeological Site In Southwest Alaska” filled the ballroom.

Catherine Dondlinger, one of only three students from Linfield College to participate in the symposium, was excited to share her poster on “Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering on Novel Silver Nanoparticles in Solution and Immobilized on Glass Slides.”

Her study could provide a more portable way to test river water onsite, eliminating the inconvenience of having to take samples back to a lab.

It can also be applied to forensics, detecting very small quantities of blood or drugs. Dondlinger explained that the world of Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering, (SERS), is an enigmatic one.

“We’re still sort of trying to figure out exactly how SERS works, but my results were pretty exciting,” she said.

Sigma Xi, the organization that supported the event, is a national honor society for scientists and engineers of every discipline. The society is over 100-years-old, and 198 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Columbia-Willamette chapter, which provided the event’s cash awards, also holds public lectures and assists in national science fairs on the middle school and high school level.

Nine judges from Sigma Xi were present at the symposium. Research projects were judged on visuals, oral presentation, and significance to the scientific world, and awards were given out at the end of the night.

Students received recognition in three categories: biology and behavioral science; earth and environmental science; and physical science, mathematics and engineering.

Each category had at least one undergraduate and graduate winner, and every winner received a certificate as well as a check for $100.

Award winners for Biology and behavioral science were: Laurie Dizney (graduate), Sharon Stanton (graduate), and Trieste Dobberstein (undergraduate).

For Earth and environmental science: Ashleigh Fines (graduate) and Summer Praetorius (undergraduate).

For Physical science, mathematics, and engineering: Jan Meiss (graduate), Emma Kuo (graduate), and James Mooney (undergraduate).