Heidelberg students share work

Each spring semester, students from a variety of academic disciplines present research papers and other projects in a professional conference format at Heidelberg University.

The 20th annual student research conference, Minds at Work, took place Thursday and has grown significantly over its lifetime to include about 100 presentations each year.

This year there were 109 presentations by 94 presenters.

Undergraduate papers judged to be exceptional are eligible for the Ernest and Martha Hammel Research Award and cash prizes. Those awards are announced in April as part of Heidelberg’s student awards celebration.

Of the 94 presenters, local students included Jessie Gase, Taylor Kidwell, Jonathan Miller, Kayla Graves and Julianne Kline of Tiffin; Gabrielle Mintz of New Riegel; Alexander Wilhelm of Fremont; Elizabeth Hucke of McCutchenville; Calista Hall of Green Springs; Susan Daniel of Sycamore; and Cierra Bishop of Helena.

The presentations ranged from psychology, biology, education, accounting and business, physics, chemistry and environmental science.

The conference was the second of three where senior Kayla Graves was to present research.

Graves presented “Strictly Sexual-Hooking Up at the ‘Berg,” which was done to determine the relationship among sexual behavior, alcohol use and self-perception.

“I picked this topic because I’ve always been interested in the topics such as relationships and sex,” Graves said. “I hope people get an understanding of what life on campus may be like, and I hope they are able to determine whether or not this matches what they thought life was like.”

Graves is majoring in psychology and English and hopes to attend grad school to become a clinical psychologist.

Alex Wilhelm, a junior majoring in education, presented “Home Town War Front: World War Two Industrial Contributions of Fremont, OH.” Wilhelm’s research discussed the importance of industry at the home front by explaining Fremont’s factory production and how a small town can fill a national need.

“My passion for history and the excitement of learning about events and efforts that happened in my backyard inspired my topic,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm, a native of Fremont, plans to teach social studies and to share his appreciation of learning with others.

Included in the day, Michael J. Boehm, a 1987 Heidelberg graduate who is vice provost for academic and strategic planning and a professor at The Ohio State University, gave the keynote address about his research and career to student presenters and the campus community.

After he graduated from Heidelberg, Boehm earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in plant pathology from OSU. His widely published researches focuses on biology, ecology and management of fungal diseases of turfgrass of the kind used on golf courses and athletic fields, and on integrated management of Fusarium head blight of wheat, an area in which he holds several patents.

Boehm presented, “All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned at the ‘Berg,” based off the poem, “All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum.

“Everyone here is on a journey and my Heidelberg education has been a key part of my journey,” Boehm said. “I have a passion for teaching and I love people and to talk and I especially love to work with students.”

While visiting campus, Boehm took in some presentations and discussed his research on (the) biological, ecological, and epidemiological methods of fungal turfgrass pathogens.

“My whole career is to solve plant diseases in an environmentally friendly way in order to not use pesticides,” Boehm said.

While enrolled at Heidelberg, Boehm joined the military reserves as a combat medic and served for 20 years. He was recalled to active duty as a microbiologist with the U.S. Navy after 9/11 and the intentional release of anthrax. Boehm was a leading biological defense testing specialist.

“The value of the education I received at Heidelberg has led me to travel all over the world,” Boehm said. “People make things special. The bonds that you as students are making with family, friends and professors are very important.”

Boehm was named vice provost for academic and strategic planning in 2010. His responsibilities includes capital planning, strategic planning and major academic initiatives. He continues to develop commercial applications for his patents and teaches one course a year on bioterrorism. Boehm also has received numerous teaching awards.

He left students with three pieces of advice to successfully transition from one position to another.

“Be curious, humble and nimble,” Boehm said. “Practice looking each other in the eye and questioning and sharing your story. (You) have a liberal arts education at your fingertips, take advantage of it.”