LSU Discover would like to congratulate recent graduates Matthew J. Landry, Brandon Oubre, and Erin Percevault who were among six students to be recognized with the Ogden Honors College Outstanding Thesis Award at the spring, 2015 LSU graduation ceremony.
These three highly accomplished students are excellent examples of mentored research as an integral part of an undergraduate education. Mentored research provides students with the knowledge and skills to better prepare them for the workforce and higher education. All three graduates are continuing in their field of study, either transitioning directly into the workforce or pursing graduate level study, and we feel sure we can expect great things from them in the future. Learn more about Matthew, Brandon and Erin and their unique research interests below.
Matthew J. Landry
2014 LSU Discover Scholar*
2014 & 2015 Discover Day Participant
Matthew was chosen as a 2014 Discover Day Scholar; his primary research interest is in clinical and behavioral nutrition. He chose nutritional science as his research field because he has always had a passion for nutrition and its positive relationship to health promotion and disease prevention. In particular, he is interested in the impact of dietary patterns established in childhood on obesity and chronic disease risk as well as the efficacy and effectiveness of community, health care, and public policy interventions for obesity and chronic disease prevention, particularly in low-income individuals. Matthew loves the problem solving aspect of behavioral nutrition and the “puzzle-like” challenges that research in this field poses. He first got involved in undergraduate research by doing basic lab work for the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Entomology in Dr. Linda Hooper-Bui’s Disaster Ecology Lab. During this time, he received two LSU College of Agriculture Undergraduate Research Grants, which provided funding for him to design his own project with her. At the end of his junior year, Matthew began working with Dr. Carol O’Neil in the LSU School of Nutrition and Food Sciences to develop an honors thesis topic.
On the value of working with a faculty mentor, Matthew says
“Each of my faculty members had a unique way of conducting research, but overall, I think I would attribute my improved communication abilities to my mentors. They challenged me to be able to present my ideas and concepts in a variety of mediums (sic), and have helped me refine my abilities to create concise, informative spoken, written, technological or visual messages.”
His honors thesis research was partly funded by a research grant from the Honors College and the Tiger Athletic Foundation, and the topic was A Comparison of Nutrient Intake, Nutrient Adequacy, Diet quality, and Obesity Prevalence in Low-Income Children (2-18 yr) Based on Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: NHANES 2003-2010.
Matthew will be continuing his research in the fall at the University of Texas at Austin where he will be pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Science, with the goal of continuing in academia upon earning his doctorate.
LaSTEM Scholar** and 2015 Discover Day Participant
Brandon, was a LaSTEM Scholar** and 2015 Discover Day Participant, and credits the LaSTEM program with introducing him to what research was very early on in his college career. His thesis explored the development of inexpensive educational robotics tools, and the potential for a broader impact is one of the driving forces behind his work. As someone who benefited from an early exposure to computer science and robotics, Brandon believes strongly in the importance of making STEM and robotics education more effective and accessible to younger age groups. Furthermore, Brandon says that his undergraduate research experience at LSU helped to prepare him for his NASA internships, which were both incredibly rewarding experiences.
In speaking about his experience with undergraduate research Brandon offers that
“…in-class learning felt more theoretical and was harder to hold on to without some opportunity for direct application. Research learning felt more “practical” and genuine because I was actively coming up with solutions and figuring out how to apply the things I learned in class towards the completion of a task or goal.”
Brandon plans to begin working as a software developer, but would like to eventually pursue a PhD in computer science, with the goal of ultimately working in the field of Artificial Intelligence or Robotics research.
2014 LSU Discover Scholar*
Erin, also a 2014 Discover Scholar, has been involved in undergraduate research at LSU since her freshman year as part of the Chancellor’s Future Leaders in Research Program. As a student of Landscape Architecture, most of her design challenges and environmental research at LSU addressed pollution and ecological restoration, specifically with regards to productive landscapes (including energy, water, and agriculture) and their impact on landscape and populations. In her opinion, energy demand is a driving force behind many global economic and political concerns, and often results in pollution, social injustice, and community instability. Consequently, in her thesis, titled “The Successional Grid” she wanted to explore how new energy landscapes can provide multiple benefits to local communities and ecologies. As a designer, her process is “shaped by the idea that a strong understanding of intersecting human and ecological systems, combined with new perspectives and innovation, can improve the world in which we live.” Erin believes strongly that the current resource demands that many communities are facing, in both urban and rural areas, will ultimately be solved by diverse, localized designs that take a more holistic approach to finding solutions.
On her experience with undergraduate research at LSU she says:
“Being involved in research with the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture and the Coastal Sustainability Studio has taught me how to address real-world, complex issues through planning and design. For me, in-class learning has provided the necessary knowledge of what is, while research and studio work have applied that knowledge to discover what can be possible for the future.”
Before beginning work this fall at a private design firm, this summer Erin will be travelling to Bhutan to do field research in rural development and resource management.
*LSU Discover Scholar Award winners were chosen by their individual colleges to represent excellence in undergraduate research. LSU Discover will seek nominations for the 2016 Discover Scholars in the fall of 2015 (to be awarded in early spring 2016). Please check our website in the coming months for further details.
**The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is a program managed by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI). OSI’s vision is to support the high achievements of LSU students, faculty, and staff through education, mentoring, and research.