SOUTHFIELD – Lawrence Technological University has hit triple digits in its annual Research Day.
More than 100 research projects by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty were presented Friday, according to Research Day chairman Matthew Cole, associate professor in LTU’s College of Management. The total included 86 poster presentations and 16 oral presentations. -- a record.
Topics presented varied widely, from experiments on the toxicity to zebrafish of chemicals used in plastic bottles, to improvements in virtual testing of advanced materials, to the design of college curricula.
This year’s Research Day was supported in part by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. LTU is one of only 23 schools across the country, and the only one in Michigan, to receive an HHMI grant to boost diversity in scientific and technical fields through increased involvement of undergraduates in research, particularly undergraduates from historically under-represented populations.
“Today, LTU was at its best,” LTU President Virinder Moudgil said. “The enthusiasm of the undergraduate and graduate students presenting their work of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship was palpable. The faculty and mentors were proud to have instilled the passion for research and scholarship works in their students. The staff were jubilant that their support made it possible for others to do their best.”
Added Cole: “When architecture professor Dr. Joongsub Kim and I started Research Day six years ago, our goal was to support Dr. Moudgil’s vision of creating a research culture at Lawrence Tech by bringing faculty and students together from across Lawrence Tech to present and discuss research in a professional conference-style event. Each year Research Day has met this goal, and this year’s event was the biggest yet. I couldn’t be happier and more pleased with the ongoing participation from my colleagues and our students. I am especially grateful for the strong support from LTU Provost Maria Vaz and the provost’s office. I am looking forward to the seventh annual Research Day, Friday, April 5, 2019.”
Lior Shamir, associate professor of mathematics and computer science and one of the leaders in the effort to secure the HHMI grant, noted that involving undergraduates in research has been shown in studies to lead to higher grades, higher identification as scientist or engineer, greater retention in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, a shorter time to graduation, and greater interest in postgraduate education.
Also at Research Day, Meng Zhou, assistant professor of chemistry, and Christopher Cartwright, associate professor of mathematics, presented on how they integrate research experiences into undergraduate courses.
More about LTU’s efforts in course-based research at www.ltu.edu/blogs/cre.
Research Day also includes the LTU Presidential Colloquium, in which a faculty member is honored for their research efforts with a keynote presentation. This year’s honoree was Patricia A. Castelli, professor in the LTU College of Management.
In her speech, Castelli, a nationally renowned writer and researcher on leadership, shared her journey through education and research.
Castelli described how an originally indifferent student from Warren, suffering what is now known as dyslexia, wound up with a PhD and consulting for global organizations like General Motors, Whirlpool and the United States Army. She’s now trained more than 30,000 people in a variety of organizational settings.
“I grew up the daughter of Italian immigrants,” she said. “College wasn’t something that was planned for me, but I didn’t care, because I had no intention of going to college anyway.”
But after her father died when she was 16, her mother learned that to keep getting needed Social Security benefits, Castelli had to go to college – so she enrolled at Macomb Community College and studied music. When a professor told her to focus her efforts elsewhere, “I had so little self-esteem that I believed him, and my dream of being a musician was over. I learned then that words are very powerful.”
She knew the food service business from her mother’s work in a high school cafeteria, so she enrolled in a food service management program at Oakland Community College. There she met her first mentor, a professor named Bob Zemke, “really the first person who encouraged me academically, who told me I was doing well and could have a career in management. Lesson two – it’s important to have mentors, and to mentor others.”
Castelli then moved to Chicago, worked as a waitress, but volunteered to job-shadow a food and beverage director at a high-end hotel to learn about inventories and budgets, and eventually got a job in management – and picked up a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1987.
She then founded a management consulting company, PAC Productions. “Another lesson – don’t be afraid to take risks,” Castelli said. She moved back to the Detroit area in 1989 to help care for her ailing mother, and earned an MBA from Lawrence Tech in 1992 and a PhD from Wayne State University in 1994, researching the motivation needs of adult learners. She joined the LTU faculty as an adjunct professor in 1995 and began teaching at LTU full-time in 2000. “Another lesson, never stop learning,” Castelli said.
Today, Castelli has won research awards for her work in reflective leadership, and has developed numerous leadership models and a framework for improving organizational performance. She said she’s continuing to conduct research in her field, as well in methods of improving teaching effectiveness, particularly in online delivery.
Of LTU’s growing research focus, Castelli said: “Conducting research with our students is vital to our university. It’s the relationships that we build with ourselves and others that make our lives worthwhile.”