Undergraduate scholars shine at research symposium

Undergraduate Research Symposium

15th annual event draws largest field of student scholars   The 216 students who presented…

Georgia (Apr 30, 2010)

15th annual event draws largest field of student scholars
The 216 students who presented oral and poster projects at the 15th Symposium of Student Scholars & Undergraduate Research set a new record of academic excellence for KSU, creating a triple win for the university.
This year’s symposium attracted the largest number of entrants in its history, with each of the university’s seven colleges represented for the first time. In addition, more of the young scholars received grants, published and presented research at more venues than in previous years.  
For the more than 300 who jammed the University Rooms for the annual reception on April 27 and browsed row after row of visual scholarly presentations, a clear winner was KSU’s undergraduate research profile. The participating students and more than 75 faculty mentors with whom they collaborated on more than 100 scholarly and creative activities shared their pride of accomplishment with administrators, family and friends.
“You have no idea how good it makes me feel to see so many here celebrating student research,” said President Daniel S. Papp. “It’s just a tremendous thing that has happened over the last 15 years.”
Papp issued one word of caution to the young scholars: “Be careful, you may end up like me.”
Explaining, Papp said he started his career in academia as a junior in college working alongside a professor on a research project on the Soviet Union’s involvement in the underdeveloped world.
“That led to a master’s and eventually a doctorate,” said Papp, an expert on Soviet history, politics and military affairs. “You are beginning on a path that will lead you in directions that will surpass your wildest dreams.”
Speaking at the symposium and conveying his enthusiasm to all faculty and staff in a memo following the event, Provost Lynn Black characterized participation in the symposium as a win-win for students and the faculty who nurture their scholarly and creative activities.
“The undergraduate research initiative affords students a unique educational experience of collaborating with faculty mentors on the design and implementation of a diversity of research and creative activities,” Black said. “At the same time, faculty members have the opportunity to work closely with students and receive valuable assistance with their own scholarship.”
The symposium, organized and sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at KSU, presented a wide range of student research on topics drawn from 23 disciplines. Among the submissions were projects and activities that have been or will be presented at regional, national and international venues, received awards and special recognition, were published in undergraduate academic journals, were conducted in collaboration with other universities and provided a service to the local community. (See list of examples below.) More than 75 of the students and faculty mentors received grants from four CETL funding programs. 
“Undergraduate research at KSU is thriving,” said Amy Buddie, associate professor of psychology and CETL faculty fellow for advancing undergraduate research. “Studies have shown that students who participate in research as undergraduates show improvements in critical thinking, problem solving writing and oral communication, and are more likely to be accepted into graduate school and to actually succeed in graduate school.”
For Laura Lund, a senior majoring in anthropology, the research she conducted on the fossilized remains of a dog is precisely the type of research she hopes to conduct in graduate school as she prepares for a career in paleoanthropology and forensics. Her project earned departmental recognition as the best anthropology poster. By analyzing the excavated skeletal remains, she was able to determine that the dog had been hit by a car, that it had suffered injuries to its head and side, and that it was a juvenile male.   “This has been a great learning experience,” she said.
- by Sabbaye McGriff
Examples of KSU undergraduate scholars who have earned distinction this year:
Students who have presented their work in professional venues:
    • Jimi Reece and Ellen Winant (Faculty Mentor: Dr. William Ensign) presented their research at the annual meeting of Association of Southeastern Biologists.
    • Vera Koganov (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Marina Koether) gave an oral presentation at the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
    • Tom Powers and Ed Dean (Faculty Mentors: Dr. Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Hermina Glass-Avery) presented their research at the Annual Symposium on New Interpretations of the Civil War.
    • Lindsay Hixson, Ian McPherson, and Caroline McElveen (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ping Johnson) will be presenting at the National American School Health Conference sponsored by the American School Health Association.
    • Kaylie Greenway (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristin Hoyt) presented at the FLAG (Foreign Language Association of Georgia) Conference.
    • Dhanashree Thorat (Faculty Mentors: Dr. David Johnson and Dr. Oumar Cherif Diop) has two different projects: One will be presented at Harvard University for a conference organized by the International Journal of Arts and Sciences and the other will be presented at the third Annual Diasporas Conference organized by Inter-Disciplinary.Net at Oxford University, UK.
    • Megan Stein (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Faith Wallace) presented at the Young Adult Literature Conference.
Students who have won awards for their work:
o   Noah Daleo (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ana-Marie Croicu) presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco, the largest meeting of mathematicians in the United States. He was one of only a small number of undergraduates to receive an award for his presentation. 
o   Krystle Roberts and Mark Segall (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher Dockery) were awarded the Society for Applied Spectroscopy Student Poster Award at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy.
o   Rebecca Finch (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Buddie) and Melony Parkhurst (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Adrienne Williamson) won awards for their research at the Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology conference.
Students conducting research outside of the immediate area:
o   Students in geography have paired with students at Indiana State University to conduct field research in Pennsylvania and West Virginia (see story at http://www.indstate.edu/news/news.php?newsid=1880). 
Students conducting research that benefits the surrounding community:
o   April Marten, Deanna Roland, Kristel Nubla, and Jordan Rice (Faculty Mentor: Natasha Lovelace Habers) have paired with a local non-profit agency, The Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.), to develop a children’s book to educate children and their parents about the importance of implementing healthy eating habits and regular exercise (see http://www.kennesaw.edu/arts/COTA_News/2010/04-21-10_choices_expo.shtml for more information).
Some publishing in undergraduate journals:
o   Mariane Delepaut, Sandesh de Silva, Matthew Squires, and Timothy Walker published their work in The Kennesaw Tower, the annual undergraduate foreign language research journal at Kennesaw State University.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu