Researcher Profile: Sura-attha Umasangtongkul



Meet Sura-attha, a Junior currently pursuing a degree in Chemistry here at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.

After a meeting with Dr. John Ejnik sparked his interest in research, Sura-attha took on a Fall Undergraduate Research Grant through the Undergraduate Research Program.

Sura-attha and his mentor, Dr. Ejnik, are currently researching methods for effective mercury removal from fish. As fish is consumed by people worldwide, many would benefit from the removal of the toxic Mercury. There currently isn’t a practical way to achieve this, so the two are working to come up with a new and effective method.

“Fish is an excellent source of nutrients and an important part of a balanced diet. However, fish often contains mercury which is highly toxic to human. Globally, up to one billion people rely on mercury contaminated fish as their main source of protein. Unfortunately, there have not been many practical ways to remove mercury in fish. If this research is successful, adults and infants will be protected from the adverse effects of mercury.”

Their goal is to successfully remove 50% or more of the mercury naturally present in fish.

Sura-attha believes his time in URP has already provided great opportunities and many learning experiences.

“URP really encourages me to be more creative. It is definitely the kind of experience that I do not want to miss.”

He encourages other students to look into Undergraduate Research experiences as well.

“Just get started and you’ll be surprised by all the fascinating ideas and knowledge which you will learn.”

For more information about the Undergraduate Research Program or this project, feel free to send us an email at or visit us at .



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Connor Yass takes Second Place at WISYS Quick Pitch Contest

Connor WisysThe Undergraduate Research Program would like to showcase the accomplishments of one of our current students, Connor Yass. Connor received both 2nd place and the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 WISYS Quick Pitch event on September 25th.

The event requires participants to present their research in a quick 3-minute pitch. This gives students the opportunity to learn how to condense their research into something interesting, informative, and brief. It also gives students the chance to gain more exposure for their research.

“The second place and people’s choice awards came as a surprise to me. I hate public speaking so I was not expecting to win anything at all. It just goes to show that there can be a lot to gain from going out of your comfort zone.”

Connor Yass is currently a double major in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics here at UWW. On top of his coursework, Connor took on the additional challenge of pursuing an Undergraduate Research project.

With a strong interest in gaining more real world experience in 3D-printing, Connor took on a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the Undergraduate Research Program. Along with his mentor Dr. Lynn Gilbertson from UWW’s Communication Science department and fellow students Tiffany Bianco and Julia Clayton, he worked through the summer to develop a digital model of a human larynx that can be 3D-Printed by anyone.

“She [Dr. Gilbertson] had an idea for project in mind but needed someone with 3D printing experience, so I was actually referred to her by someone else who had seen my previous work in the field.”

Yass hopes that the resulting model will provide more opportunity for hands on learning in the field of human anatomy. As the model would be accessible to anyone with a 3D printer, the project has the potential to help students and teachers all over.

“The goal of our research was to create something that anyone could use to learn more about the human body. Hopefully some day we can release our designs and 3D models online so that people around the world can use it and learn from it themselves.”

Connor feels that his time spent working on his project and participating in the Undergraduate Research Program has benefitted him greatly, providing meaningful opportunities and experiences.

“My public speaking skills, time management skills, and creative problem solving skills have all been tested and enhanced because of my participation in the UR program.”

To all those looking to take on some form of undergraduate research, Connor has some inspiring words:

” I know it can be nerve-racking to take on such a big responsibility, but the skills you will gain and the doors it will open for you are much bigger. Participating in the Undergraduate Research program is a phenomenal way to learn more about a particular interest you might have, and also teach others about your findings.”

Anyone interested in the Undergraduate Research Program should head over to our website at or send us an email to






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Fall 2017 Undergraduate Research Day

Warhawks from across all disciplines are putting the finishing touches on a diverse array of undergraduate research projects and will present their findings on Tuesday, September 26. Come see over 50 different projects and show support for the 69 students presenting their work. This free, public event takes place from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM in the James R. Connor University Center Hamilton Room.

“It’s a showcase of academic student engagement in its purest form – seeing students engage in scholarly activity through undergraduate research within their discipline and across disciplines,” said Whitney Supianoski, director of the McNair Scholars Program.

Projects range from social work and criminology to performing art pieces. Many of the students have been preparing their research and working alongside a faculty mentor for close to a year.

“Typically, they (undergraduate students) work for a year or more. By ‘work’ I mean the active scholarly work that they need to put in, including a literature review or some sort of experimentation. It includes thinking how to present the work and explain the work to people who may not be in their field of expertise,” said Catherine Chan, director of the Undergraduate Research Program.

As a longstanding UW-Whitewater event, Undergraduate Research Day has grown not only in numbers, but in the quality of the research being presented.

“I’ve witnessed a growth in the variety of the projects and different trends in the projects being presented,” said Chan. “There are more team-based projects now, more interdisciplinary projects being developed.”

Beyond the preparation that these students put into their research, their presentations help them harness their academic career and use what they’ve learned beyond campus borders.

“Undergraduate research gives students an opportunity to make their education their own. Often times, those who may not have previously seen themselves doing undergraduate research do it to make meaning of their academic work and to make sense of why they’re in their discipline,” said Supianoski.

Chan added, “It is certainly an opportunity for them to practice any opportunities down the line for interviews for grad school, professional schools and employment.”


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