Importance of research realized at UNC

By Benjamin Welch

Tell someone anywhere other than north of Denver you go to UNC and their eyes widen as they ask, “North Carolina?”

Though the University of Northern Colorado basketball team may not be quite on the same level as our east coast sister school’s (yet), some of our university’s research findings may be comparable to that of larger institutions.

This academic year, nine UNC professors and students have been involved with new research finds that have been featured in the media. Some of these stories have made it on the national news circuit, appearing on TV networks like ABC News and in large newspapers like the Denver Post.

Anthropology professors Bob Brunswig and David Diggs used equipment to locate Native American sites, geology professor Steven Anderson is helping to monitor volcano explosions, biology professor Chhandak Basu and graduate student Brenda Thornton have shown plants clean air pollutants at a faster rate than previously known, biology professor Stephen Mackessy has conducted research with snake venom that may cure cancer, biology professor Rick Adams and doctoral student Mark Hayes have done much prominent research about bats and their habitat and math professor Igor Szczyrba is helping develop a football helmet that reduces brain damage.

True, UNC community members may not be creating billion-dollar industries through Internet social networking sites like a certain ex-Harvard student, but the research performed is still benefiting the world and the scientific community.

These newfound Native American sites are essential in establishing new knowledge about a community and way of life that is almost lost to society. Volcanic explosions, especially that of a super-volcano like the one in Yellowstone National Park, could alter geological conformity as we know it. Plant research can bring a rare appreciation to our ecology system.

Cancer is one of the biggest medical problems facing society, and its cure, which at this time is undiscovered, could be the most significant invention since the telephone. As Adams and colleagues have shown, some species of bats face extinction, though they play a significant role in ecology and the human way of life, and brain damage and concussions have faced much analysis in the media lately, and the NFL has been reprehended for not taking more measures to ensure head safety for its players.

“There are undoubtedly researchers on campus who are making a big difference in their fields,” said Mark Riddle, a UNC sociology professor.

This has been proven by the effort put forth by these campus community members.

Research is important, and as humans, everyone has a responsibility to attempt to leave the world a little better than they found it. We have a humane duty to society to make a conscious effort to solve world problems.

Though others may say UNC is too small a school to contribute too much to the scientific community, or the efforts by professors and students pale in comparison to the findings of larger schools, these UNC researchers have embraced the task of world betterment and have performed this duty to a more than acceptable degree.

When UNC members have cured cancer, maybe we can finally stop making movies about students who are building shallow, life-consuming websites.

Benjamin Welch is a junior at the University of Northern Colorado.