By Phillip J. Milano
Two things happen when students finish their presentations at the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which this year is being held from March 29-31 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
One, they feel an overwhelming sense of relief and release, says Dr. Janet Haavisto, Director of University Honors and Enrichment Programs at Jacksonville University.
But two, and more important, the real fruits of their months or years of labor can begin.
“They have learned one-on-one with faculty how to do professional research in the field,” she said. “So when they leave us for graduate work or the work world, they know what is expected. Employers have a better idea that our students can produce professional work right off the bat and don’t have to begin from scratch.”
This year, 34 JU students submitted 28 research projects for consideration at the NCUR event, with topics like eating local, unemployment, Jane Austen, microbial degradation and even the social impact of facial hair.
This year’s batch is one of the largest ever for the university, Haavisto said. Counting all those who were accepted and then subtracting those who couldn’t make the trip for various reasons, a total of 10 students are attending this year and will be among the 3,000 or so presentations.
“For our size, it’s amazing how many we send. We are right up there at the top when you look at the percentage of students going to NCUR from our college. Some big names, even Ivy League schools, don’t even take part to the extent we do.”
The key to JU’s success is the interest of the students, and the willingness of the faculty to help guide them, even without receiving extra pay for doing so, she noted.
“It always amazes me, the quality of the projects and the students’ presentation skills.”
Money is “scrounged” from various budget areas and through donations to help make students’ dreams of attending a reality, Haavisto said.
The work put into the program always pays off.
“This is what it’s all about. It’s helping students realize their potential, and seeing them go out feeling confident that they can compete with anybody.”
The following are the JU students who submitted to NCUR, followed by their research project and mentor professors:
Jay Angel, Evan Schnitker, Kenneth Carl Bretey and Ashley August, “Measurements of the Thermo-optic Coefficients of Acetone from 179 to 300 Kelvin,” Dr. Steve Browder;
Ashley August and Robbie D. Jones, “Enhancing Introductory Student Motivation and Learning Attitudes With a Major-Managed Course Blog,” Dr. Brian Lane;
Joseph Babadi, “Victoria’s Secret: A Social Analysis of Victorian Economic Reform,” Dr. Barry Thornton and Dr. Janet Haavisto;
Bryan Beck, “Polarizing Glass: Creating Abstract Sculptures Informed by the Stress Properties in Glass,” Professors Brian Frus, Jim Benedict and Lily Kuonen;
Samirah Bey, “Learning Tier 2 Words Through Role Play,” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Leah Blair, “The Art of Perception,” Prof. Lana Heylock;
Jesse Brantman, “Micro-expressions Revealed: A Psychologically Inspired Study Through Photographs,” Prof. Ginger Sheridan;
Bridget Carr, “The Relationship Between Optimism and Retrospective Measures of Family Life,” Dr. Sherri Jackson;
Heather Cole, “Super Sight Words,” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Ann-Marie Connolly, “An Analysis of Marriages in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” Dr. Julie Brannon and Dr. Janet Haavisto;
Kevin Elmore, “Build-a-Word,” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Nicolas Emeric, “Cameo Engraving: an Exploration of Glass Through Hot and Cold Glass Art,” Prof. Brian Frus;
Joel Esposito, “Integrating Emerging Technologies to Enhance Digital Artist Workflows,” Prof. Eric Kunzendorf;
Erin Feldman, “Branding the Band: Creating the Identity Design of the Polygons,” Prof. David Smith;
Elizabeth Feustel, “U.S. Unemployment: Cyclical or Structural?” Dr. Barry Thornton;
Melissa Grossman and Paige Argus, “ABC’s Help Me Read,” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Laura Heckt, “Pixeldot Studios: An Innovative Approach to Graphic Design and Fine Art,” Prof. Ginger Sheridan;
Jessica Hotchkiss, “Eat Where You Plant Your Feet: A Creative Exploration of the Eating Local Movement Through Identity Design in Jacksonville, Florida,” Prof. Ginger Sheridan;
Kathryn Keshen, Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Jennah Knight, “Do you Hear What I Hear?” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Ashley Kohler, “Microbial Degradation in Contaminated River Sediments,” Dr. Anthony Ouellette;
Tayler Massey, “The Tuvalu Islands: A People Threatened by Climate Change,” Dr. Jeff Martin and Dr. Janet Haavisto;
Danielle McMaster, “Reading Rangers,” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Taylor Middleton, “After the Rain: A Photographic Survey of the Abandoned Spaces of Jacksonville,” Prof. Ginger Sheridan, Prof. Jim Benedict and Dr. Carolina Conte;
Anna Price, “Word What?” Dr. Cristina Valentino;
Jamie Ragan, “Heroes: The Social Connotations of Facial Hair,” Prof. Dana Chapman-Tupa;
Dale Roberts, “Hemispheres: An Illustrated Narrative of Processes in the Left and Right Lobes of the Brain,” Prof. Ginger Sheridan;
Sara Schunter, Larkin Kurzius and Rachel Rhode, “Fisheries & Climate Change: Fish Gotta Swim, But Can They Out-swim Global Warming?” Dr. Lee Ann Clements.