Undergraduate Research

Students from all disciplines and majors will present their research and creative work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on Wednesday, April 26 in locations all across campus. Take a look at just a few of the fascinating projects students have completed this semester:

Feral Animals and Social Media

Can a hashtag save a cat? Mass communication major Jordyn Key set out to discover the impact of feral animals on the environment, and whether or not social media could be used to decrease the feral animal population in Asheville.

While feral animals may not seem like a big deal, Key found feral animal populations around the world can have a real impact on their environments.

“Feral cats kill billions of birds and small mammals a year,” Key said. “They make a huge impact. Feral dogs cause damage to farm animals, and they have potential to spread diseases. They can spread canine distemper virus and parvovirus, and it can jump between species—those diseases can go to seal pups and cause death, and grey wolf pups. It caused the extinction of a black footed ferret population.”

Key discovered some animal rescue organizations—such as Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville—are using the “trap neuter return” method, along with the hashtag #TNR, to address feral animals populations, with the help of social media.

“It’s replacing the old method of trapping, where they would just trap the feral cats and remove them,” Key explained. “But because there were still resources left after the cats were trapped and taken away, more cats would come in, so it wouldn’t really help.

“But with TNR, they go and trap the cats, they neuter or spay them so they can’t reproduce, and then they take them back so more cats can’t come in.”

To find out how local organizations are using the #TNR hashtag, head to Key’s presentation at 9:40 a.m. in Karpen Hall, room 016.

The Art of Daydreaming

Ever looked at the distant gaze of a woman in a classical painting and wondered what she’s thinking about?

So did Brittany Lynch-Blosse, an art major who decided to explore the world of daydreaming through her small-scale graphic drawings.

“Daydreaming often carries a stigma of negativity in society, so my work shines a brighter light on it,” Lynch-Blosse explained. “It’s often seen as negative because people that are daydreaming often seem uncaring or unproductive, but that’s actually not the case. Through research I found there are a lot of potential benefits to it.”

Lynch-Blosse found that daydreaming increases problem-solving abilities and creativity—both important skills for an artist. She captures daydreaming not only through images of people, but also the objects or events that may trigger a day dream, like a comfortable chair or doing the dishes. The size of her work is also important.

“The small scale of my work creates a more intimate experience for the viewer by drawing the viewer in for a closer look,” she said.

To see Lynch-Blosse’s work, go to 237 Owen Hall at 10:35 a.m.

Capturing Wildlife—on Camera

There’s something in the forest. Environmental studies students Cade Justad-Sandberg, Alyssa Melton, Seeta Arundhati and Jackie Mendez want to know exactly what—and how many—are out there.

“We were trying to figure out what animals frequent campus, that was the main goal,” said Justad-Sandberg. “If there’s any construction done or any ground management on the forest, if they’re going to say take away a tree that provided food for squirrels that were around there, that would be important to find.”

The team placed cameras at Chestnut Ridge and in the woods behind the Forest Service Southern Research Station. The motion-sensitive cameras would snap a picture every time an animal moved in front of it, revealing the animals living on the urban forested campus. Though they’ve mostly found squirrels so far, the team is hopeful that continuing the project will reveal more of the wildlife on campus.

There was one mystery animal—an unidentified mammal—caught on camera. To find out what the team thinks it was, visit the team’s poster presentation from 12:30-2 p.m. on the concourse of the Sherrill Center.

The Economics of Baseball

How much is a homerun worth?

Economics student and former Bulldog soccer player Chukwuka Anyafo spent his semester examining whether players in professional baseball are paid their marginal revenue product—in short, whether they’re paid what they are worth to their team.

“When you think of it based off a labor market, and you consider MLB teams as firms, then, are firms gaining anything from the contributions of their players on the team?” Anyafo explained. “And we’re putting a dollar amount on that.”

According to Anyafo’s calculations, there are players being paid far more than their marginal revenue project, as well as players being paid far less.

“I calculated the marginal revenue product through offensive statistics, but there are certain players that may have defensive prowess, and that may be why their salary is as high as it is,” Anyafo said. “There are other factors. Also you could factor in the bargaining power of the player.”

Even with all the other factors, Anyafo believes his findings are useful.

“Now that there’s a methodology, if an economist puts proxies on certain ways to evaluate a worker in a firm, and possibly put a value on that, then people will know specifically and will be able to estimate how much a person is contributing and whether they’re being paid the marginal revenue product,” he said.

So, is your all-time favorite slugger paid his marginal revenue product? Check out Anyafo’s presentation at 10:35 a.m. in Karpen Hall, room 035.

For the full schedule, visit https://2017assurcschedcom.sched.com.