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MSU students’ work selected for National Conference for Undergraduate Research

Morehead State University has always put an emphasis on conducting important and impactful research while giving students invaluable experience through the Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. Recently, two MSU undergraduate students were able to present their work on a national stage. 

Hannah Brewer, a senior from Pine Ridge with a double-major in biology and teacher certification through MSUTeach, and Craigory Coppola, a senior from Danville majoring in computer science, were selected to participate in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the largest conference dedicated to undergraduate research in the country.  

The conference was held in April at Kennesaw State University. It featured oral and poster presentations, visual art exhibits, performances, workshops, information about graduate school opportunities and career fairs for the thousands of undergraduate students selected to participate. 

Brewer was mentored by Dr. Robert Boram and Dr. Wilson González-Espada, both professors of physics and science education. Her research focused on why college students who enroll in college with Q-STEM Majors (physics, chemistry and math) tend to switch their majors later in their college careers. Brewer’s plans for her research includes a literature review, interviewing more students and developing concrete recommendations so that universities can help reduce Q-STEM attrition and graduate as many physics, chemistry and mathematics students as possible. 

Coppola was mentored by Dr. Heba Elgazzar, instructor of computer science. His research involved using machine learning algorithms to analyze the dynamics of social networks to locate maximal cliques and to find clusters for identifying a target demographic. Coppola plans to expand the work and apply the machine learning algorithms on different social networks datasets to detect events such as outbreaks of epidemic diseases in order to help public health officials determine their presence and if early intervention needs to be planned and put into practice. 

González-Espada said Brewer and Coppola’s accomplishments and the quality of their research is only going to benefit their future endeavors while highlighting the academic reputation of MSU. 

“The fact that students from MSU are being accepted to NCUR reflects on the quality of our academic program and the students’ motivation to maximize their college experience,” he said. “Presenting at a national conference also enhances their resume and opens the door to higher-quality graduate programs.” 

For more information about undergraduate research at MSU, contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 606-783-2010, email or visit