From fighting infectious diseases to telling the public how to respond in an emergency, University of South Carolina Beaufort students demonstrated Monday how they've put their know-how to use.
Sophomore Bill Glesias, 21, pulls out his iPhone and launches a new app. In seconds, the USCB Sand Shark logo pops up on his screen with drop-down menu options that provide step-by-step instructions for handling a bomb threat, active shooter, and other emergencies.
With a tap of his finger, the phone pops up a list of emergency contacts; those resources can be dialed with another tap of his finger. Glesias' app also provides links to websites with other pertinent public safety info and alerts.
"If it's an absolute emergency and you panic," the phone's GPS will guide the person directly to campus security "and tell you what to do to resolve the issue," he said.
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Glesias was among more than 30 selected to present their research at USCB's fifth annual Student Research and Scholarship Day at the Hilton Head Gateway Campus in Okatie. He placed second in the research day's innovation/application category.
The daylong event showcases the research and scholarship of USCB students to the public.
Students give presentations on a variety of topics, including literary criticism of Ernest Hemingway; health issues, such as the host dynamics of certain flu strains; and natural-science, including dolphin and mosquito research.
Glesias developed the public safety app with help from USCB assistant professor Brian Canada, who said the idea had been brewing in the back of his mind since receiving the university's emergency quick reference guide. When it became buried on his desk by paperwork, it occurred to him it might be more useful in another format.
Canada didn't have time to develop it, but Glesias did.
"We wanted something you can carry with you that won't get lost and is fast-acting and widely accessible," Glesias said of the app, which works on most Apple and Android tablets and smartphones.
"In an emergency, you want to go as quick as you can to find the problem, resolve it and keep going. That's what this app is designed to do."
USCB has been the fastest growing baccalaureate institution in the USC system since becoming a four-year university in 2004.
"We want to get the word out ... about the opportunity as an undergraduate to participate in graduate-level research," university spokeswoman Candace Brasseur said. "... There are no teaching assistants ... so there's ample opportunity for one-on-one mentorship with faculty, which internal studies have shown to increase student retention and success."
Samia Durborow, 27, said regular meetings with her faculty mentor helped enhance the quality and speed of her research.
The freshman in pre-medicine won first place in the hypothesis-driven category for modeling that shows the immune system contributes to the spread of highly infectious influenza strains, such as bird and swine flu.
Durborow hopes her work will aid future research in flu treatment and vaccination.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.