MAILED: April 18, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE - Safety in schools, ground water contamination, cloning, touch therapy, alcohol use and the political status of women in Eastern Europe are among the dozens of topics University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students are exploring through collaborative research with faculty.
"Some of this research will have an impact on local communities and other things will have an impact on a national level," Christopher Lind, assistant dean for research, said of the student-faculty research taking place at UW-Eau Claire.
Students and faculty will share their research during the fifth annual Student Research Day Monday and Tuesday, April 28 and 29. The program will feature 129 poster presentations representing work by 225 students and 85 faculty mentors from 26 departments.
"As usual, the poster presentations are heaviest in the sciences but all disciplines are represented," Lind said. "We have entries from every college and school. More and more students are seeing this as a worthwhile thing to be involved in."
The program showcasing undergraduate and graduate research projects is in a poster session format. The poster session will run from noon to 4 p.m. on April 28 in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center, and an awards reception will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Dulany Inn. Posters will remain on display in the Council Fire Room until 8 p.m. April 28, and again from 8 a.m. to noon April 29.
Posters will be judged by representatives from outside funding sources and other educational institutions. Awards will be given in the following categories: Arts and Humanities, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Business and Professional Studies, Sciences, and Graduate Student entries. First and second place awards of $100 and $75 respectively will be made in each of these categories.
The growing interest in Student Research Day is reflective of the increased attention paid to student-faculty research efforts campuswide, Lind said. Those collaborative efforts are expected to increase even more as some of the dollars from differential tuition funds are earmarked for student-faculty research, he said.
"It will likely enhance the student-faculty research collaborations," Lind said. "As a result, I expect that an even greater number of students and faculty will be engaged in research as a teaching tool."
UW-Eau Claire is gaining a regional and national reputation for excellence as a result of undergraduate students' and faculty mentors' extensive collaborative research, Lind said. The university is sending more students than ever before to regional and national conferences to present their work, he said, noting that such presentations benefit students as they apply to graduate schools or seek jobs.
"In the last couple of years, there is a growing number of students requesting money to go make presentations at professional meetings," Lind said, adding that UW-Eau Claire students are being well received at these conferences.
This year the University Research office provided funds to enable 35 UW-Eau Claire students to attend conferences across the country to present their research. For example, financial support went to a biology student to make a presentation in Milwaukee; three chemistry students to make presentations in Atlanta and San Francisco; an English student to present work in Savannah, Ga.; two geology students to travel to Denver for presentations; a theater student to travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a conference; an art student to go to New Orleans to a conference; a music therapy student to make a presentation in New Orleans; two psychology students to travel to Green Bay to present their work; and two social work majors to make presentations in Brookfield. Earlier this month, Heidi Rantala, a senior geology and biology major, made a presentation in Washington, D.C., as part of the Council for Undergraduate Research's "Undergraduate Research Poster Session on Capitol Hill."
In addition to benefiting students, Lind said, the exposure in regional and national settings helps UW-Eau Claire students and faculty attract funding for research from outside sources. University Research funded some of the projects to be included in Student Research Day but others were funded by outside sources and still others were done as independent study projects with no grant dollars.
UW-Eau Claire students and faculty have become more competitive in recent years when applying for outside funding, Lind said. For example, reviewers of a proposal submitted by UW-Eau Claire junior biology major Erin Herriot indicated her proposal, titled "Environmental Analysis of the Zoo Waste Disposal System of Ochsner Park," was the highest ranked proposal among those submitted to the UW System Solid Waste Research Program. "That says a lot about the quality of work our students are doing," Lind said.
And, Lind noted, reviewers of a proposal written by assistant professor of chemistry Feimeng Zhou stated that "the proposal is truly exceptional ... his work is of exceptional quality in terms of electrochemistry that is being performed at undergraduate institutions. In these respects, the proposal is competitive with those from research universities. Yet he has been successful with undergraduates."
Faculty have been aggressive in recent years in their efforts to create research opportunities for undergraduate students, Lind said. For example, he said, Dr. Maria Decosta, associate professor of economics, spent a semester on sabbatical studying economic issues in China. Now a student is collaborating with her to continue the research based on information gathered during her sabbatical.
"It's nice to see a faculty person who was on sabbatical, already have a student engaged in a new research area," Lind said. "We're seeing more and more of that type of thing."
For more information about Student Research Day, call Lind at (715) 836-3405.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 18, 1997