CLEMSON — Clemson University will celebrate undergraduate research at the ninth annual Focus on Creative Inquiry Poster Forum Thursday at the Hendrix Student Center. The event is part of Research and Innovation Month.

“Undergraduate research opportunities through Clemson’s unique Creative Inquiry program are making a lasting impression on our students and faculty,” said Barbara Speziale, professor and associate dean of Undergraduate Studies. “Real research, real results, real commitment and understanding. Creative Inquiry is changing the way we learn at Clemson University.”

Creative Inquiry gives Clemson undergraduate students the opportunity to work on research projects that span disciplines and multiple semesters. Students work in teams with faculty mentors, take ownership of their projects and take the risks necessary to solve problems and get answers. Creative Inquiry participants develop critical-thinking skills, learn to solve problems and hone their communication and presentation skills.

David Kwartowitz (right) and students wired a test dummy to record the force of impacts like those that cause concussions.

Assistant professor David Kwartowitz (right) and Creative Inquiry students work on a test dummy that records the force of impacts like those that cause concussions.

The interdisciplinary teams are guided by faculty and graduate mentors but are responsible for their own outcomes. By striking a balance between creative autonomy and experienced leadership, they venture into uncharted territory to find the answers to some challenging questions.

For instance, one undergraduate team presenting at the forum is researching concussions. The students worked with faculty to design a dummy simulator equipped with brain sensors to measure the impact of various objects striking its head, including weights, footballs, baseballs and helmets. They will share their findings with athletes, coaches and parents.

Other undergraduate research teams are developing low-cost medical devices to improve health care in Third World nations. These include blood sugar test kits, infant warmers and grass-woven neck braces. The work is part of the bioengineering department’s broader effort to improve lives in Tanzania. It may also translate into lower costs for health care here at home.

More than 3,500 students participate in the program each year on more than 450 teams working on multi-semester research. These small group projects have resulted in 348 presentations at professional meetings, 159 publications in professional journals and 37 national awards.

Along with posters depicting some of the Creative Inquiry teams’ projects, there will be interactive demonstrations during Thursday’s event:

  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — Sustainable foods
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — Bioengineering demonstrations
  • 10 a.m.-noon — Smartbottle mobile app presentation
  • 10 a.m.-noon — Redefining happiness
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — Sterile process improvement
  • 1-3 p.m. — Cooking with a chef
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — Medical technologies for developing countries