The Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences hosted its annual research symposium on Wednesday, giving faculty members, students and residents the opportunity to showcase their research through poster and oral presentations.

"It's one day out of the year devoted solely to the research endeavor, and that's important because everything a clinician has done and will ever do is based on research," said Jeff Staudinger, professor and chairman of the campus' basic sciences division.

As part of research that she began as an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, first-year student Meghan Bernier studied the effects of bisphenol A in thermal paper. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is a chemical that has been used to make plastics and resins since the 1960s, and in large doses, it is thought to lead to various cancers in people.

Bernier wanted to know how people absorbed BPA through thermal paper, such as receipts. She watched how approximately 700 people behaved in a cafeteria after ordering their food, including how much of their hand they used to take their receipt and how long they handled the paper. She then calculated their risk of BPA absorption.

While more research is necessary for conclusive results, Bernier said her study was enough to prompt her to recommend that others be eco-friendly and ask for emailed or digital receipts, if available.

"If we can save the earth and lessen our risk (of BPA), let's do it," she said. "I've found my behavior around receipts has changed so much. I'm like, 'No, thank you' (to paper receipts)."

Parker Adams, a second-year student from Minnesota, carried out his research with the aid of a $1,500 Mamie L. Johnston Creative Medical Art in Teaching Award. With an iPhone and some inexpensive lights and audio equipment, he recorded a series of high-quality videos of human anatomy to be used by first-year students in their studies.

"A lot of the videos you find online are fairly simplistic," Adams said. "(With the new videos), we can see some really detailed stuff. It's hard to see and teach, but with this cheap video equipment, we can teach it easily."

Based on a survey he administered to KCU students who had watched the videos, most said they had found them "very valuable," he said. Future plans could call for a separate YouTube channel where the videos could be available for public viewing, he said.

Staudinger pointed to the effects of research in the medical field, from the development of mold into penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 to more recent advances of gene-editing processes and cancer-fighting therapies.

"We're on the cutting edge of science," he said. "Why wouldn't we teach our future clinicians about that?"

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Emily Younker is the managing editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.