College's Students Showcase Remarkable Research

College's Students Showcase Remarkable Research

Undergraduate student research hit an all-time high this spring in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The college was strongly represented at the university-wide Celebration of Student Scholarship held on May 6, and in April, the college hosted a record number of presentations as part of its 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Research plays an important role in humanities and social sciences, and the college emphasizes the value of research projects at the undergraduate as well as the graduate level. "In my experience, there is no better way to learn than taking on your own, independent, long-term research project,” said Robert Matz, senior associate dean for curriculum and technology. “From the presentations I saw at the symposium, it appears these students have learned a lot."

The 87 student presentations – 76 poster presentations and 11 oral presentations – were the highest total in the event’s history. In Dewberry Hall, the students described their posters, explaining their projects and presentations to curious faculty, staff and students. Twenty-seven faculty judges were on hand to critique the projects and help determine the event’s top projects.

Six students were recognized for their work:

  • Best Overall Research and Scholarship, Oral Presentation: Saira Bhatti, global affairs,  Drugs, Corruption, and Neoliberalism: The “War on Drugs” and the Rise of the Cartel
  • Best Overall Research and Scholarship, Poster Presentation (TIE): 
    • Christina Lau, psychology, Using Microanalysis to Examine Differences among Elementary Students’ Self-Regulation in Math: A Case Study
    • Helena Winter, communication, Branding Image in Social Service Nonprofits
  • Outstanding Oral Presentation: Melissa Fuerst, integrative studies, Salamander Migration and Population Monitoring in Warrenton, VA
  • Outstanding Poster Presentation: Rachel Hall, neuroscience, The Effect Interruptions Have On Idea Creation
  • Outstanding Poster Presentation: Charlie Bare, psychology, Pitch Discrimination and Cognitive Functioning

Jamie Cooper, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs, was pleased at the students’ level of participation. “This year we saw fantastic growth in the number of students participating in the program and the variety of disciplines and interests represented in their work,” he said. “The projects showcased at the symposium get more impressive every year, as more students from across the college become involved in research and participate in the event.”

Vita Vock, senior associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, appreciated the efforts of the college and the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) to showcase the work. “The events give the undergraduates an opportunity to share the research that they’re so excited about,” she said. “The OSCAR office is doing a great job in promoting research opportunities for undergraduates.”

Lisa Gring-Pemble, associate dean and professor, New Century College dean, was enthusiastic about her participation with the symposium. “It reflects liberal arts education at its best,” she said. “Inquisitive, engaged, and enthusiastic undergraduate scholars who are proposing rich intellectual questions, addressing complex global problems, and seeking innovative solutions. Nothing brings greater joy or hope for the future than to spend an afternoon chatting with these inspiring students.”

Students took part in a competitive online application process in order to present at the symposium. Photos from the event are on the college’s Facebook page (see link to right).