One Last Presentation

Students speakers prepare for the Spring 2022 Symposium

With midterms wrapping up and the academic year winding down, students across campus are getting ready for final projects and presentations. For some students, this final push includes sharing their best work with the campus community. Spring Symposium, EOU’s annual undergraduate research presentation event, returns in person May 18, providing a window into the work and significance of a plethora of student projects, ranging from the scientific to the creative. 

The Voice had the opportunity to speak with three of these student presenters, including keynote speakers Brady Layman and Lance Hatch. Layman is a senior at EOU majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry/chemistry. Hatch is a junior majoring in biochemistry/chemistry. 

The two will be presenting their work on an ongoing project designing a biosensor to detect Bacterial Kidney Disease in Salmon. As covered in their abstract, the sensor was created in part to help detect and offset the impacts of Renibacterium Salmoninarum in salmon hatchery ponds. 

The project has been progressing for approximately four years with Hatch recently appointed as the project head. According to the two, most of the biology aspects have been completed, with the team moving in electrochemical components, though there’s plenty of work left on the project. As Layman told The Voice

“We’re still characterizing the bio sensor and still very much in the development part of the process…moving forward it’d be more testing samples and maybe going out into the field.”  

Though not yet complete, the project is still the first scientific keynote for the symposium in nearly a decade, and Layman and Hatch are more than qualified to bring the information to EOU. Layman has been attending symposium since his freshman year, with some twenty poster presentations behind him and both students present their work on the sensor in San Diego over spring break to a conference of 12,000 attendants.  

While EOU symposium may not reach the same scale, the two are excited be bring such an extensive work out of purely scientific circles and into the public sphere, especially in a more personal environment, with Laymen telling The Voice

“A lot of our friends are researching in the biology department. Additionally, having the general public come to symposium is really impactful presenting in that capacity. We’re also having quite a few high school students here, so presenting to the potential future members of the department is exciting.”  

Hatch further remarked, “I’m excited, honestly, for it to be in person again, to see and interact with more people. Last year, we did break out rooms and we were just presenting between research groups. There wasn’t a lot of departmental intermingling.” 

The keynote presentation will take place in the McKenzie Theater at 9:00 a.m. and run 25-30 minutes with 15-20 minutes set aside for questions. 

The keynote speakers were not the only symposium presenters The Voice spoke to. Brady Ellis, a senior at EOU, was among those interviewed.  Ellis will be presenting his project on the Determination of Strontium in Tusks of the Woodward Mammoth. 

Ellis has been collaborating on this project with a fellow student, Maddie Morgan. Together they have worked closely with anthropology and chemistry faculty to advance this research. Dr. Christopher Walsh, Dr. Rory Becker, and Dr. Aaron Thornburg are the faculty members included in the project. 

In October of 2019, 30 EOU students and three faculty members spent four days outside of Prineville, Oregon, excavating a partial mammoth skeleton from a gravel quarry. The site was owned by late EOU alumnus Craig Woodward, class of ’69, who donated the fossils to his alma mater. After the discovery of the Woodward mammoth, this had given Ellis the passion to pursue a degree in anthropology at Eastern Oregon University. 

Eillisis fully engaged with his research and is excited to share his findings at spring Symposium. When asked what the Strontium determines in mammoth tusk, he replied; 

“Strontium is used for anthropologists to be able to determine an animal’s migration, or what diets an animal might have had”. 

As Ellis put it, “There has not been that much research for detecting levels of Strontium in Mammoth tusks”. 

This research is a great contribution to the academic community of EOU because of its originality. It is fascinating that Ellis has brought such interesting research into a rural college environment and how this research can possibly be utilized for future students. It is because of students like Ellis that Symposium can flourish as a prestigious academic conference.

Upon asking Ellis his overall feelings about presenting at Symposium this year, he stated; 

“This is my first symposium so it will be interesting. I was fortunate enough to present my anthropological research at the Northwestern Anthropological Conference. For the Symposium presentation, we are particularly focusing more on the chemistry aspect of our research. New data has been being collected over the past few weeks and I am excited to share these new discoveries”.

 “I’ve been really working on understanding the material better to find a balance between chemistry, anthropology, and archeology. I have also been working on my ability to explain it to someone who may not be familiar with the field of study”. 

Ellis will be presenting at Symposium and hopes that he can teach others some valuable information about the determination of strontium in the Woodward mammoth. Ultimately, Brady hopes to get other students involved with the research that he had trailblazed. Ellis will be attending Graduate school at the University of Montana and will be continuing his research into anthropology. 

The final schedule for symposium is as follows: 

  • 8:15 Continental breakfast – Loso Lobby
  • 9:00 – 9:50 Keynote presentation – McKenzie Theater
  • 10:00 – 10:50 Poster Session 1 – Loso Lobby
  • 10:30 – 1:00 Hybrid Talks – Huber Auditorium
  • 10:10 – 11:50 OTP Poster Sessions – Badgley Atrium
  • 11:30 – 1:00 Art Senior Students Open Studios – Ackerman Annex
  • 12:00 – 12:50 Choral Conducting Demonstration and Performance – Groth Recital Hall, Loso
  • 1:00 – 1:50 Poster Session 2 – Loso Lobby
  • 2:00 Eastern Oregon Social Science Journal Volume IV reveal – Library Reading Room
  • 7:00 – 8:00 PM Honors Societies Induction Ceremony – Hoke Community Room

Overall, the stories shared by students and staff in the run up to symposium paint the event  as not just an academic conference but an environment of genuine scholarship and intrigue among undergraduate peers, faculty, and community members alike. For any students presenting this year or considering presenting in the future that may be nervous, Hatch offered some advice:  

“Just try to have a good time. You’ve worked hard on the research and now you get to out show them what you’ve been working on.” 

For additional information visit or contact Sarah Ralston and Sally Mielke. The master schedule is available online.

Sarah Ralston:  

Sally Mielke:

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