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UWRF students present undergraduate research at conference

April 29, 2016

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls sent 56 students to present their undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative projects at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of North Carolina Asheville April 7-9.

UW-River Falls participants presented a wide range of topics including “Greenhouse Rain Garden” (research poster), “Optimization and Testing of Flow Cytometry Methods for ED50 Establishment for Novel Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase Inhibition as a Potential Drug Target in Plasmodium falciparum Using Wortmannin and Rapamy” (research poster), “Bringing Nature-Based Learning Into Elementary Classrooms” (PowerPoint oral session), “Put it Away” (live performance), “The Effect of Foot Inclination Angle on Lower Extremity Kinematics and Ground Reaction Forces During Running” (oral presentation), and “Observation of the Cosmic-Ray Shadows of the Sun and the Moon with IceCube” (research poster).

“NCUR is a wonderful opportunity for students of all disciplines and academic levels to educate their peers about a topic that they are passionate about,” said UWRF senior Molly Patterson, a dairy science-management, food processing technology major. “This was my second year participating in NCUR. The most rewarding moment during this conference for me was when a group of students recognized me as the ‘cheese person’ from the poster I presented on Asiago Style Cheese last year. They told me that my project was their favorite and most memorable presentation of 2015.”

Patterson’s NCUR experience included informative interviews with campus representatives at the graduate school fair, allowing her to weigh options in pursuing her passion through industry and plant management positions or moving more immediately toward a master’s degree.

“I am so thankful for the support that has been provided to me by UWRF and the guidance that I have received while conducting my research,” Patterson said.

NCUR 2016 featured undergraduate research presentations from a wide-range of disciplines, including the arts and sciences, agriculture, business, and education. More than 4,000 undergraduates showcased their best work in a dynamic three-day series of poster sessions, gallery talks, live performances, and Powerpoint presentations. Presentations describe project background, research methods, materials, and outcomes to an audience of fellow students, faculty, and administrators from campuses around the nation.

“This event taught me all about presenting in a professional setting,” said Casey Beck, a first year student majoring in fine arts/ceramics at UWRF. “I got to see how others present their artwork as well as receiving great feedback from my presentation. It would be great to present new research at this conference in the following year.” Beck’s well-attended gallery talk gained him a strongly enthusiastic recommendation to apply to a prestigious nearby summer program in ceramics.

NCUR provides an important venue for students’ professional and personal development. Students learn project and time management, develop presentation skills, and gain confidence from their public speaking experiences. The opportunity to dialogue with other scholars in and out of their field provides perspective on the high quality of their own work, and broadens their intellectual foundation through cross-disciplinary exposure. The graduate school fair, plenary speakers, and student interest sessions all offer students a more developed understanding of the opportunities ahead.

“NCUR is a chance to both share and celebrate research, both to my peers and to my prospective Ph.D. mentor or employers,” said UWRF senior Beck Hite, a biotechnology major. “This is the one event a year where networking on multiple platforms has a direct impact on my future. It is because of NCUR and the URSCA Office that I have secured both a job for my future and ignited a light in my heart for research.”

UWRF senior Madeline Foy, a communication sciences and disorders major, said “NCUR was an amazing opportunity to further my research experience as an undergraduate student. URSCA allowed me to not only create my own project, but to carry it out all of the way to dissemination. I was able to supplement the clinical experiences and coursework within my major with the research skills I learned during this project. This experience was unique, and something that is not readily available to students at other undergraduate universities. I feel that graduate schools took particular interest in me because of my extensive research experience and presentation skills.”

Students were accompanied by faculty and staff members Lissa Schneider-Rebozo, Elizabeth Jordahl, Paul Budde, Joe Blum, and Brett Kallusky. UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen and Timothy Lyden joined the contingent on the second day of the conference.

NCUR, under the auspices of the Council for Undergraduate Research, promotes undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity through the sponsorship of an annual conference for students. NCUR was attended by nearly 4,000 students and administrators from across the nation.

For more information, contact URSCA Director Schneider-Rebozo at elizabeth.schneider-rebozo@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3902.