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USD Students to Present Research Posters at State Capitol

VERMILLION, S.D. – Two undergraduate researchers from the University of South Dakota will present at the 2020 South Dakota Student Research Poster Session March 4. Brett Hughes and Rachel Rucker will display their posters in the Rotunda of the South Dakota State Capitol and present their research to state legislators and other state officials in South Dakota. 

Brett Hughes standing in front of the Clay County Historical Society building in Vermillion.Brett Hughes is a senior majoring in secondary history education from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His research comes from his participation in a community-based research project called “Clay County’s Fallen” that challenges education students to uncover the forgotten stories of Clay County veterans killed in action. Hughes' historical research on Lloyd Merlin Thompson, a World War II fallen soldier, included database and archival research and interviews with local historians. Hughes uncovered the life of this 20-year-old farmer who was drafted and sent abroad to fight in World War II, adding to Clay County’s local history, preserving the legacy of the soldiers who lost their lives and families during World War II, and highlighting the human cost of war.

Rachel Rucker wearing a white coat in a lab. Lab materials are around her and she is wearing safety glasses.

Rachel Rucker, a native of Yankton, South Dakota, is a junior chemistry and neuroscience major. Her focus is on endocannabinoids, which are lipid neurotransmitters that have a wide variety of neurobehavioral effects, including modulating pain. In her research, Rucker, uses medicinal leeches to focus on the gene encoding the enzyme responsible for 2-AG synthesis (DAG lipase). By studying the properties of DAG lipase in the context of the well-characterized nervous system of the leech, her research will provide insights into how to develop safe cannabinoid-based therapies to treat chronic pain.

The Student Research Poster Session, sponsored by South Dakota EPSCoR and the Board of Regents, has been held in Pierre for more than 20 years. This event gives policymakers and other capitol visitors the opportunity to interact with students and faculty engaged in research activities on public university campuses to better understand not only how the research benefits the state, but also how it benefits the education of South Dakota students. 

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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