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Students take home first-place research awards

June 22, 2006

Photo of graduate student Ryan Olson monitoring the baggage screening system at Reno/Tahoe International AirportA new airport baggage screening system and the use of microscopic worms to discover the reasons behind human reproductive failure were the subjects of SF State student research that claimed top prizes at this year's California State University Student Research Competition.

Ryan Olson, a graduate student in the Master of Arts and Industrial Arts (MAIA) program, and Jason Randolph, a student in the Biology Department, each received first place honors and a $500 cash prize at the 20th annual competition.

The competition, which was held at the beginning of May at California State University, Channel Islands, awarded 22 first-place prizes for outstanding research conducted by undergraduate and graduate students in all academic fields.

Olson's project researched the effectiveness of a new system to screen baggage for explosives at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Nevada. His presentation was based on work conducted with Chris Morlock, also a graduate student in the MAIA program. The project analyzed how the screening system operates under various scenarios based on such criteria as the number of passengers traveling, number of bags checked in, whether or not the destination was international, which ticket agent performed the transaction, number of agents and duration of transaction.

The research was conducted with the Threat Resolution Optimization Institute (TROI), created by Professor Martin Linder for design research in the field of threat screening and explosives detection. TROI designed the airport's explosives detection system that Olson and Morlock examined.

"Above all else, our focus is on making not only the machine but the entire security screening process as easy as possible on passengers and operators," Olson said. "The project is indicative of the strength of our design program at SFSU."

Randolph, who is working toward a bachelor's degree in cell and molecular biology, conducted his research under the direction of Assistant Professor of Biology Diana Chu, whose lab analyzes the development of fertility in the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans. The research Randolph presented compared the worm's genes and cell development with those of mammals.

Randolph said that he is fascinated with Chu's research, which is intended to shed light on human male infertility. He is very excited to be working in an area of research that he said has not yet been thoroughly explored.

-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Denize Springer


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Last modified July 17, 2006 by University Communications