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January 18, 2019

Bryce Forry ’20 knows just how far undergraduate research can take you. The biochemistry major worked as a student researcher under the guidance of Dr. Bruce Branan and presented his findings at Asbury University’s annual academic symposium SEARCH in 2018.

“I was investigating the amount of ochratoxin A, a toxin produced by fungi, in black walnuts,” Forry said. “[It] has been found in several different types of food including breakfast cereals, coffee, peanuts and grapes, and we had reason to believe it could also be found in black walnuts. However, we actually found no ochratoxin A in the black walnut samples we tested. So, people can feel a little more comfortable with collecting black walnuts in their backyards, at least from an ochratoxin A contamination standpoint.”                                                                                                 

SEARCH puts student researchers, like Forry, centerstage. The annual academic symposium poses an incredible opportunity for students who are interested in pursuing research in their future careers. Asbury undergraduates can submit and present their analyses in a variety of disciplines including English, history, mathematics, natural science and psychology. Any papers or independent projects completed at Asbury are eligible for entry. SEARCH 2019 will be held on Asbury’s campus on April 11.

“Students gain experience in framing their ideas amidst other competing ideas, which becomes a crucial skill to have in any role one plays in society,” said Academic Dean Dr. Tim Campbell. “The event is also a chance for students to realize, ‘Hey, I’ve got something to offer. Maybe I should think about pursuing [this idea] further.’”

Forry’s initial experience presenting at SEARCH gave him the confidence to submit his findings for publication to the Proceedings of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2018. He also presented at the NCUR 2018 event last April.

For Forry, participating in SEARCH was the gift that kept on giving.

“SEARCH was a great opportunity for me to present my hard work to my professors, peers and friends at Asbury,” Forry said. “I was able to formally explain and illustrate what I had spent months working on. It was also a valuable opportunity to sharpen my presentation skills.”

He’s thankful for the chance that SEARCH provided to work closely with his faculty mentor Branan who oversaw his project.

“It makes me feel a lot of gratitude to the people who helped me reach that point,” Forry said. “Without Dr. Branan sacrificing many hours of his own time, having a paper published is something I would not have been able to accomplish. Since I hope to incorporate research into my future career, hopefully it is one of many more to come!”

SEARCH provides an excellent opportunity to dive headfirst into the world of inquiry, preparing students not only for the workforce but for graduate and doctoral level analysis work as well.

“Since I plan to attend medical school and hope to perform research during my career, I was introduced to many fundamental research skills that I will continue to use in future work,” Forry said.

Forry also cites his experience with SEARCH and the research skills he learned at Asbury as key factors in helping him obtain a laboratory internship in the summer of 2018.

In addition to the great academic experience a student can gain from SEARCH, students will also have the opportunity to add a professional presentation to their resumes and work closely with their favorite professors. Equally enticing is the chance to win the $1,000 first-place prize, an increase from last year’s $600. Registrations and submissions are due April 1 at 5 p.m.

This year, SEARCH will feature a scholars-leaders forum lunch, faculty panel discussion, faculty-scholars reception, keynote address by renowned philosopher Dr. James K.A. Smith and end with the student poster presentation in Kinlaw Library.

SEARCH 2019 attendees can look forward to hearing from keynote speaker Smith, an author, philosopher and professor at Calvin College. His books include “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit,” “Desiring the Kingdom” and “How (Not) to Be Secular,” among others. He is a thought leader at the intersections of academia, society and the church. Smith also serves as the editor-in-chief of Comment magazine and his works are regularly published in Christianity Today, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Students who are interested in participating in this year’s SEARCH competition can email Dr. Janet Dean at research@asbury.edu.