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Salisbury University students spend the summer growing hemp

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

As the 2019 spring semester came to a close, many Salisbury University students closed their textbooks and pushed thoughts of studies away.

But that was not the case for all SU students, for some took the initiative to dive into research projects ranging from hemp growth to the effects of Juuling and more.

This past Thursday, 50 SU graduate and undergraduate students spent the afternoon presenting their summer research projects on the fourth floor of the Guerrieri Academic Commons.

President of SU Dr. Charles Wight opened the showcase with a few remarks regarding the university’s highly acclaimed undergraduate research program.

Wight explained that the Maryland General Assembly has “recognized Salisbury University as a model for undergraduate research,” as well as sharing that the university ranked 14th at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research held in Baltimore last spring.

After his opening remarks, Wight had the students switch off between odd-numbered poster boards and even-numbered poster boards to present in order for all the students at the showcase to be able to view their peers' work.

“I challenge myself to learn at least one new, really cool thing every time I attend a showcase like this,” Wight said.“I can’t wait to see what these students did this summer.”

Unlike most undergraduate research assignments, which take place over the school year, these students spent their summer break learning and writing about various topics.

SU junior Jessica Pierce was one of the 50 student presenters who shared her research with the near 200 attendees of the showcase.

Pierce focused her summer research project on cell repair. Specifically, Pierce conducted optic nerve repair in fish who were induced with diabetes, and she found her research to be difficult but rewarding.

“While [the research project] was a fulfilling experience, it was a little hectic getting it all done while balancing summer classes,” Pierce said.

All of the students presenting on Thursday conducted their research under the mentorship of an SU professor who was an expert in each student's specific field of interest. For some, the project was a labor of love — a passion for research.

“I knew freshman year that I wanted to do research. So, when I found Dr. Clark, I knew that with their guidance, I could do it,” Pierce said.

For others, the summer research opportunity provided a head start on their honors thesis.

Senior Cassandra Parisi began her research project on the psychology of cigarettes to save time.

“It was something I was interested in, and I figured, 'Why not,'” Parisi said.

The research projects covered a variety of topics that spanned from elephant migration patterns to the impact on cranial nerve repair when diabetes is present to the significance of self-identification in human interaction.

However, among the 15 research projects presented, one particular project stood out for its unconventional, and somewhat controversial, area of research.

Seven SU students — Kevin Auerbach, Sam Chisholm, Sara Collins, Jamie McBain, Josey McGoldrick, Audrey Schirmer and Nina Sedrakyan — presented a project on industrial hemp production.

From left to right Kevin Auerbach, Sam Chisholm, Seosaimhin McGoldrick, Sara Collins and Jamie McBain stand with their research. Sam Chisholm Image.

Not only did they present a project on growing hemp, they brought two fully grown hemp plants to aid in their explanation.

Needless to say, the poster stand was crowded with curious onlookers for the duration of the event.

At any given point, five to 15 onlookers could be found waiting eagerly to find out how these students could bring hemp plants onto the campus, and how they could have incorporated them into their research.

The seven students spent their summer growing hemp plants to see if there was a way to grow the crop in a manner that would result in a higher bud count, higher levels of CBD and lower levels of pests in the state of Maryland. Should this be possible, it would allow for the industrialization of marijuana in the state.

Their results showed a positive trend toward industrialization; however, further research still needs to be conducted.

Controversial plants and all, the 2019 Summer Student Research Showcase allowed all the student presenters a chance to show off their hard work, and all attendees a chance to learn something new.



Staff writer

Featured images by Sam Chisholm Images.

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