The Undergraduate Research Festival crowned its winners last Tuesday after oral and poster presentations throughout the morning and afternoon.
The seventh iteration of the festival included 125 presentations in Hunter Welcome Center. Dr. Amber Sutherlin, associate professor of biology and director of undergraduate research, said about 175 students participated in the festival.
The research presentations were divided in to three main categories: arts and humanities; social sciences; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Over the past 8-9 years, the number of ACU students participating in undergraduate research has considerably increased, Dr. Sutherlin said. Because many students are not prepared to present at professional conferences in their fields, the Undergraduate Research Festival gives students the opportunity practice their presenting skills, she said. Additionally, the festival offers an opportunity for other students to see their peers’ work and show students and faculty what is happening at ACU.
Cara Loveland, senior exercise science major from Katy, said she had never conducted academic research before and initially expected it to be boring.
“So when I got into class, I wanted to make it interesting, because I didn’t want to work on a project that was awful and agonizing,” Loveland said.
Loveland, along with Hailey Grisham and Elizabeth Knight, created a mockup of their experiment in class and were then encouraged to conduct and present the experiment. Loveland’s experiment combined two of her favorite pastimes, being active and video games. The experiment discovered that the video game Just Dance could be as beneficial for cardiovascular health as jogging.
Before Loveland participated in Undergraduate Research Festival, she presented her research at the Texas chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine in Austin, the week before spring break.
Like Loveland, many students present their work at regional, national and international conferences, often before they even participate in the undergraduate research festival.
Savannah Hipes, junior psychology major from Oviedo, Florida, was one of the students who first presented her class research at a national conference. Hipes conducted research looking for a relationship between people who take a lot of selfies and their personality characteristics of extroversion, self-esteem, self-absorption and excessive reassurance-seeking. A few summers ago, she did the research as part of a group project in an experimental psychology class with Dr. Richard Beck, professor of psychology. Hipes was able to present the research at an Alpha Chi honors society conference in Chicago.
Hipes enjoyed interacting with the festival’s attendees and said she thought it would benefit the participants if more people came to learn about the research.
“I think it would be really cool if there was more traffic, even people who aren’t presenting because it is really fun to dialogue with people who aren’t familiar with the research,” Hipes said. “That just makes it really fun to talk about and extend knowledge to all of campus. So I think it would be exponentially better if we had even more people coming.”
The winners this year:
Outstanding Oral Presentation in Social Sciences
– A Comparative Analysis of Satisfaction Among Post Hospital Birth and Non-Hospital Birth Mothers by Christina Brown
– The Solid South: Campaign Issue Strategies in the 2014 Southern Senate Races by Caleb Orr
Outstanding Oral Presentation in Arts and Humanities
– ACU Theatre Spring 2015 Season Dramaturgy by Diego Gonzalez, Sarah Yarbrough, and Braden Clark
– A Comparison and Analysis of “Come away, death” from Twelfth Night as set to music by Roger Quilter and Gerald Finzi; by Marc Gutierrez
– The Building Blocks of Society: An Analysis of Messages in The Lego Movie by Abby Ayers
Outstanding Oral Presentation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
– Determining the effect of clpA in the Natural Transformation ability of Aeromonas salmonicida by Kristen Clemons
– Small Mammals of Guandera Biological Reserve, Carchi Province, Ecuador and Comparative Andean Small Mammal Ecology by Rachel Ritchie
– Microbial Diversity and Antibiotic Production in Sorcerers Cave by David Sanderson
Outstanding Poster Presentation in Social Sciences
– This Avoidance is Stressing Me Out! How Avoidance Contributes to Test Anxiety in a College Population by Hannah Anderson, Mackenzie Harrington, and Morgan Watten
– Biopsychosocial factors impacting positivity and resilience in individuals undergoing cancer treatment by Kaitlin Pegoda
– Influence of Religious Upbringing on Views of Women in Leadership by Cara Buenz
Outstanding Poster Presentation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
– Requirement for the SWR1 complex and Nap1 chaperone after TBP association in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by Julia Taylor and Tim Kang
– Reconstructing the Paleoniche of Prosopis glandulosa (Honey Mesquite) by Mike Keenan
– Quantifying Wolbachia and Spiroplasma Infection Rates in Monarch and Queen Butterflies by Lydia Brown and Jamie Thompson