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PURE Award Winners 2014: Miranda Cosman

Graduate seeks to preserve Calgary's queer theatre history

Committed to a goal of research excellence with its bold Eyes High strategy, one of the University of Calgary’s most important initiatives is the Program for Undergraduate Research Experience, better known as PURE. 

Each year undergraduates can apply for the prestigious PURE Awards, which provide financial research support to some of the university’s most promising students over the Spring and Summer months. 

The program is designed to give undergraduate students the opportunity to learn how to develop research projects, undertake independent research and contribute to knowledge in their respective fields. 

In this Q&A series we will meet the PURE Award winners from the Faculty of Arts. Good luck to each of them in their research pursuits! 

Name – Miranda Cosman

Degree sought – Fifth-year honours, biological anthropolgy, with a minor in biology.

Research Topic – "I’m researching the effects that bone length has on the structural properties of a bone. Features such as strength and shape, as well as other geometric variables will be analyzed for this project."

What attracted you to this research project? – "I am really interested in evolution, bone morphology, and the mechanisms of evolution. Bone morphology is integral to skeletal evolution and variation. This project takes my interest in evolution and mixes it with biomechanics to allow for a more palpable analysis of the effects that, in the case of this experiment, artificial selection has on a skeletal system." 

Why is this research important? – "This project is unique because throughout the selective breeding program, the body mass of mice, which I use in this study, has been kept constant. Little research has been done to understand the association between bone shape and structure without the effects of body mass. Results from this project will help achieve a better understanding the processes and consequences that lead to functional changes in locomotion of quadrupedal animals. In addition there are many health related implications. Treatment options of diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can benefit from this type of research. " 

What do you hope to achieve with this research? – "I hope to better understand the mechanisms of selection on animals and how that affects locomotion. Identifying the relationship between structure and shape would be a great start to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of bone responses to selective (both natural and artificial) pressures. These results could have really interesting suggestions for primate and human evolution."  

What do you love most about your field of study? – "I love that it is so broad. Anthropology is extremely expansive and is inclusive of many different areas of study. I am interested in locomotion and bone structure but I could also look at cognition or parasitism and still be in the same field of study. Primates are some of the most amazing animals on this planet and every day I learn something new about them. " 

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