||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Students To Present
Research To Board of Regents March 5
MAILED: March 1, 1999|
From the east and west coasts to the Apostle Islands and Wisconsin's cranberry bogs, a faculty-student research team from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will take members of the UW System Board of Regents on a virtual tour of some of their research activities Friday (March 5) during the Regents meeting in Madison.
Four students and assistant professor of geography Harry Jol will show the Regents how they used cutting-edge technology last summer to evaluate coastal and shoreline erosion and to map physical features of selected areas on both coasts and in Wisconsin.
The faculty-student team personifies the thousands of UW-Eau Claire students who have participated in undergraduate collaborative research in the decade since the Regents designated UW-Eau Claire as a Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research. Their excitement about learning through hands-on research is shared by hundreds of UW-Eau Claire students each year who work closely with their professors outside the classroom on research and other scholarly activities.
"I've learned to write proposals, conduct experiments, and then bring back information to the people involved through public presentations," says Brian Thayer, a senior geography major from New Berlin, who later this spring will present his work at the 1999 Association of American Geographers meeting in Honolulu and the 1999 National Council of Undergraduate Research meeting in Rochester, N.Y.
Beth (Fisher) Wenell, a senior geology major from Wild Rose, calls research "the highlight of my college career. It requires me to apply classroom information to real life experience and has given me an opportunity to work with other agencies and universities and develop a network across the country."
Paul Haughton, a senior geography major and history minor from Oconomowoc, and Lisa Theo, a UW-Eau Claire graduate from Fond du Lac and currently a Ph.D. student at UW-Madison, also will take part in the presentation.
UW-Eau Claire's Center of Excellence builds on a quarter century tradition of engaging students in collaborative research with faculty scholars and incorporating research into the undergraduate experience, says Interim Provost/Vice Chancellor Thomas Miller.
"Our main mission here is teaching, and it's important that faculty engage in research to stay current in their field and bring that to the classroom. Students gain experience in the problem-solving that is inherent in doing research and present their results in a broader context," Miller says.
In fact, faculty-student research has become a hallmark of the undergraduate experience at UW-Eau Claire.
"As far back as the 1950s, the University Senate voted to commit $10,000 for faculty-student research, so we truly were at the forefront of what today is a nationwide trend to involve undergraduates in research as a teaching tool," Miller says.
Since its establishment in 1988, the Center has provided students with an opportunity for hands-on experience in research, presentation of results at the annual Student Research Day, and encouragement to present findings at meetings of professional organizations.
The program's growth in funding collaborative projects, summer research experiences, student travel to present results, equipment and laboratory improvement and Student Research Day is impressive. During 1991-92, $3,600 was awarded. This year the Center will award over a half million dollars with virtually every department represented.
The money comes from a variety of sources, including the UW System Undergraduate Initiative, Office of University Research, UW-Eau Claire Foundation and a number of external funding agencies. But the main financing in recent years has come with the adoption of differential tuition on campus in 1997 when students supported a special tuition increase of $50 per semester targeted to expenditures producing a direct benefit to students and the goals of the baccalaureate degree.
For an institution of 10,000 undergraduates, the numbers are truly impressive, says Chancellor Donald Mash. "The university has been very creative and entrepreneurial in financing the Center's activities. The benefit to our students is enormous."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: March 1, 1999