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State Fair 2018: Coming Together to Drive Research Forward

Driven to Discover Research Facility

There’s a lot to do at the Minnesota State Fair this year, from catching a performance at the grandstand to trying one of 32 newly introduced fair foods. Amid all of the music, entertainment, and festivities, the University of Minnesota invites fairgoers to round out their summer’s day at the fair in a unique way—by contributing to world-class research.

Every year, the Driven to Discover (D2D) Research Facility allows fair visitors to devote a bit of their day to learning about U of M research and helping advance efforts to improve our health, well-being, and environment. During this year’s fair, which starts on Thursday, August 23 and continues through Labor Day, researchers will welcome visitors of all ages and demographics to volunteer for one of 58 ongoing studies.

For participants, the D2D facility is one way to directly participate in improving the world around them. For researchers, it provides an opportunity to reach a more diverse group of participants, meet study recruitment goals in just a few hours or days, and provide undergraduate and graduate students with valuable research experience.

Participate in D2D Research

This year’s studies range from how working families manage stress to how to make the results of newborn genetic screening easier for parents to understand. Volunteers typically spend 10 to 20 minutes in any given study and will receive a small thank-you gift in return for participating.

Below are a few of the studies taking place this year. See the complete schedule and full list of study descriptions to plan a visit.

  • CLIMB the Pathway to Better Illness Management—Assistant professor of nursing Barbara Beacham, Ph.D., is looking for families with children who have lifelong illnesses (like asthma, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis) who are interested in helping develop a system for better family health management.
  • Feel the Good Vibrations!—Biomedical engineering professor Victor Barocas, Ph.D., and assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery Dr. Amy Moeller are studying how people perceive vibration and how well they can tell the difference between vibrational patterns.
  • Is Precious Metal Mining Sustainable in Minnesota?—Assistant professors of geography, urban, environment, and sustainability studies Ryan Bergstrom, Ph.D., and Afton Clarke-Sather, Ph.D., want to hear Minnesotans’ opinions about the proposed precious metal mining operations in northern Minnesota and learn why they feel that way.
  • Jiminy Crickets: What’s in These Chips?—Entomology professor Sujaya Rao, Ph.D., aims to increase awareness about insects as a tasty source of high-protein food by inviting participants into a blind taste study between chips made with cricket flour and regular grocery store chips.
  • Mind the Gaps: Help Us Make Smart Devices Smarter—Help computer science and engineering professor Maria Gini, Ph.D., and psychology professor Wilma Koutstaal, Ph.D., improve their intelligent personal assistant device, which supports people with memory loss and various forms of sensory loss.
  • Sunday Sales: The Good, the Bad, and the Boozy—Public health Ph.D. student Collin Calvert aims to gauge how Minnesotans feel about the state allowing liquor sales on Sundays, and whether people have purchased alcohol on a Sunday since the law changed.
  • What Women Want: How Do Women Want to Make Health Care Decisions?—Public health Ph.D. student Priyanka Desai wants learn how women make decisions about their health care, and how different medical situations may change how they approach these decisions.

Visit the D2D Research Facility site or contact for more information.

Kevin Coss

Kevin Coss

Kevin is a writer with the Office of the Vice President for Research.

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