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Students headed to national research conference

RELEASED: April 15, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Thirty students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will attend the 24th National Conference on Undergraduate Research April 15-17 at the University of Montana in Missoula.

All 16 of the UW-Eau Claire abstracts submitted to the conference were accepted for presentation. The 36 student co-authors represent UW-Eau Claire departments of biology, history, psychology, mathematics, computer science, information systems, and music and theatre arts.

Junior psychology majors Valerie VanTussi, Hartland, and Emily Prosser, Grafton, and senior communication sciences and disorders major Jaime Barth, Stanley, are among the students who will attend the conference.

The three students will participate in a poster session titled "Women's Preventative Health: Are You Getting Your Information?" They will present two side-by-side posters — one scientific and one general, for people who are unfamiliar with the psychology terms used. Their research team will be available to answer questions and provide further information.

According to Prosser and Barth, their original research, supervised by Dr. Blaine Peden, professor of psychology, explored how well women know the guidelines for obtaining health exams. They then led a follow-up study on the social factors that affect behavior toward exams and whether past experience makes a difference. One question addressed in the study explored whether women were reactive or proactive in pursuing health exams. The group also was interested in how women receive information about preventative health measures.

"Past research has shown that people who read testimonials as opposed to scientific information tend to believe the testimonials more," VanTussi said. "We wanted to see if the same effect was present when the topic was specific to women."

VanTussi, Prosser and Barth are looking forward to attending the conference.

"I enjoy doing research, specifically psychology research, and hope to continue in the future," VanTussi said. "I feel that attending a national conference will help me gain experience in the research field as well as see what other students are doing across the nation."

Barth looks forward to meeting others who are interested in research as much as she is. "I am hoping to gain a wider knowledge of what research is being done at other universities," Barth said.

NCUR started in 1987 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville to promote undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in partnership with faculty or other mentors. The conference now regularly hosts about 2,000 students and their faculty mentors who present research through posters, oral presentations, visual arts and performances.

Dr. Karen Havholm, UW-Eau Claire assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, and director of the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration, said that the students will benefit from the opportunity to present their work to an audience of faculty and students from around the country.

"It is a good example of the quality of our student scholarly projects and how university research offices in the region collaborate to better serve their students, faculty and staff," Havholm said.

More information about this year's conference is available online.

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AH/RD/DW

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