MAILED: May 22, 2000
Five professors and seven students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire presented illustrated papers at the Association of American Geographers' 96th annual meeting April 4-8 in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Dr. Garry Running, assistant professor of geography, and Dr. Harry Jol, associate professor of geography, were chairs of a session titled "Illustrated Paper Session: Geographers in the Field: New Teaching Methods, High-Tech Tools, Innovative Research Application and Presentation Media."
The session, organized by Running and Jol, was comprised entirely of student and faculty presenters from UW-Eau Claire, which wasn't the original intent. Running had expected a handful of UW-Eau Claire students to be interested in presenting at the session and for the remaining spots to be filled by presenters from other universities. But the response was overwhelming, and all 12 spots in the session were filled by UW-Eau Claire students and faculty.
"I didn't plan in the beginning to have an 'all-Eau Claire session,' but it worked out that way," Running said. "You can only have 12 in a paper session like that, and we filled it with Eau Claire people.
"UW-Eau Claire undergrads were easily 25 percent of all the undergrads at the conference. They were easily 90 percent of those that presented anything, let alone an illustrated paper highlighting their own original research."
Students who presented in the session were seniors Mitch Stimers, Rice Lake; Corrie Neuens, Green Bay; M. Brian Junck, Eden Prairie, Minn.; Mark Aurit, Dodgeville; Amy Landis, Eagan, Minn.; Tim Morrell, Sheboygan; and Nichole Kloehn, New London. Faculty presenters were Dr. Brady Foust, geography department chair, Dr. Sean Hartnett, geography professor, Christos Theo, associate professor of art, Running and Jol.
"I think that presenting at a national meeting is something that students at the university should try and do," Morrell said.
Participants in the session created an illustrated poster detailing their work, and each presenter was allowed five minutes to give an oral presentation about their research. After the oral presentations, audience members were allowed to walk through, look at the posters and ask the presenters questions about their research.
"I found the conference to be an excellent place to meet people for future references and learn new techniques for researching," Neuens said.
The illustrated papers presented by UW-Eau Claire students and faculty covered topics such as techniques for mapping lakes and rivers, ground penetrating radar investigations, dune stability and erosion, climate variability and its impact on grassland habitat types, and ways geographers can use the theories and concepts of graphic design.
"All of their work was impressive and well-received, exhibiting a level of professionalism rarely achieved by professionals, let alone undergraduates," Running said.
Running said illustrated paper sessions are very new, but he likes the format because it allows the presenters to explain their work to the group beforehand instead of repeatedly answering the same questions when audience members walk through and look at the posters.
"It's a good combination of the nice things about a poster and a paper," Running said. "I like it."
Student presenters also participated in a job placement service during the conference in which all UW-Eau Claire participants were granted interviews with participating companies. Along with being interviewed for jobs, some of the students received job offers and graduate school opportunities based on their work at the conference.
"Our students worked hard and it paid off," Running said. "Our posters are still orders of magnitude above the average in terms of presentation and research."
Students who participated in the job placement service but did not present at the conference were seniors Scott Nelson, Oostburg; Justin Valeri, Rosemount, Minn.; Jennifer Duran, Long Lake, Minn.; Adam Wirtz, Berlin; Melissa Gray, Appleton; and 1999 UW-Eau Claire graduate BrianThayer, Menomonee Falls.
"This kind of thing is an extremely worthwhile experience," Running said. "We would like to do it again in the future."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 22, 2000