Students show their best work on and off campus

The 2013 Undergraduate and Graduate Student Engagement Forum and other conferences in April highlighted some of the best research and academic work of the Radford University community.

The forum, in its 22nd year on campus, was an opportunity for students to gain experience making professional presentations similar to those at national academic conferences. This year's event, from Tuesday, April 16, through Thursday, April 18, was the largest yet, featuring more than 300 presentations, including oral presentations, videos and more than 200 posters.

"The forum is a testimony to the hard work of our students and the dedication of our faculty to an educational experience grounded in collaborative scholarship," forum coordinators Joe King and Niels Christensen wrote in a welcome message to attendees and participants. "We are proud to report that student engagement is alive and well at Radford University in the laboratory, library, classroom, field and studio."

King is director of the RU Honors Academy, which invites highly motivated, intellectually mature students to maximize their education and graduate as Highlander Scholars. Christensen is a professor in the Department of Psychology and associate director of the Honors Academy.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of students have presented their work at the annual campus conference. Submissions of scholarly or creative work from all RU students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels are accepted.

The forum is an academic capstone for research-oriented students, many of whom have already appeared at national and regional conferences. It is one of several April events at which RU students' accomplishments have been in the spotlight.

Ten students from the School of Communication participated in the 27th National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse April 11-13.

Similar to the Student Engagement Forum, NCUR gives students an opportunity to introduce their research and creative work through oral presentations, posters, exhibits and performance sessions. In addition to exhibiting undergraduate work, participants attended presentations from nationally known university faculty and graduate programs, three keynote speeches and several social events and excursions.

"It's wonderful for these students to get this kind of recognition on a national level," School of Communication instructor Betty Kennan said.

The participating communication students and their projects were:

  • Ryann Driscoll and Maggie Rhodes, "Examining Identity Management in Electronic Relationship Initiation."
  • Robert Lambert, Reba Miller and Gabrielle Pidal, "The Influence of New Communication Technologies on Undergraduate Preferences for Social Capital:  Initiation, Maintenance and Termination."
  • Alex Garcia and Elizabeth Damron, "It's Nothing Personal:  Research and Analysis of the Growing Popularity of Text Messaging Instead of Voice Calling."
  • Megan Ahrenberg, Dakota Carter and Taylor Franklin, "Examining Conflict Management Styles in Face-to-Face and Computer Mediated Communication."

Closer to home, RU students took part in the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium April 5 and 6 in High Point, N.C. Among the presenters were juniors Dana Gregor and Dylan McDaniel, who brought home the award for Best Presentation in Section for their study of the enzyme Cyp4f18 and inflammation in mice.

Their yearlong work with Peter Christmas, assistant professor of biology, produced "conflicting roles of the enzyme studied on inflammation caused by injury and infection," the two undergraduate researchers wrote in a recap of their research and findings.

McDaniel, a biology major from Dublin, said, "I must admit that the presentation opportunity sparked our competitive streak. It made us get pretty intense and focused. It was also great to be called up before everybody at the end for the certificate presentation."

Gregor, biology major from Lyndhurst, N.J., said she appreciated the chance to see the diversity of research going on among her peers. "Our stuff was at a pretty high level," she said, adding her appreciation for the opportunity at RU to forge a relationship with a faculty mentor who opened the door for her to do meaningful research.

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Apr 16, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749