News Release

Five present at 31st annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Thursday, April 13, 2017

Five students traveled to Tennessee to present at the 31st annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research held at the University of Memphis. The conference, held in early April, was an opportunity for the students to showcase their undergraduate research projects.Joe Wodarek, Pratima Thapaliya, Assistant Professor Megan Bell, Cassandra Morthera, Kary Sheppard, Heather Buchhop, and Associate Professor Brian Dingmann

The students presenters, joined by faculty members Brian Dingmann and Megan Bell, included Pratima Thapaliya, a senior from Kathmandu, Nepal, majoring in applied studies; Heather Buchhop, an animal science, pre-vet major, from Cary, Ill.; Cassandra Morthera, a junior majoring in communication from Mexico City, Mexico; Kary Sheppard, a senior majoring in exercise science and wellness from Grand Rapids, Minn.; and Joseph Wodarek, a senior double majoring in agronomy and ag business from Six Lakes, Mich.

Formal presentations during the four-day conference were given by Joseph Wodarek on the “Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate on Xanthomonas translucens;” Pratima  Thapaliya on “A Study on Use of Ichip Technology to Isolate Diverse Groups of Microorganisms;” Kary Sheppard on “Post-therapy Collaboration;” and Heather Buchhop on “Validating the Association of SLC2A9 and NLN with the Entropion Phenotype in a Domestic Sheep Herd.”

Cassandra Morthera was selected to participate in the poster session with her poster “One Step Ahead” discussing the use of social media in the University of Minnesota system.


The idea for a national conference open to all undergraduates was conceived and first implemented at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) in 1987. The first conference drew more than 400 participants from schools across the country. Now in existence for 30 years, the conference has become the leading conference for undergraduate research, hosting 3,500-4,000 students and their faculty mentors each year. One of the only conferences of its kind within the world, it provides students and faculty mentors from all disciplines the ability to present their research through posters, oral presentations, visual arts and performances. The conference is hosted at a different university across the U.S. each year.

The Council on Undergraduate Research’s Executive Officer Elizabeth Ambos notes:  “CUR’s programs, including its signature student research conference, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), serve as “home” for all champions and practitioners of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry.”

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 34 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit


Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations