RU tradition of scholarship featured at Student Engagement Forum


Matt Dunleavy

Radford University's tradition of exploration and discovery continued April 22-24 as the campus gathered for the 23rd annual Student Engagement Forum.

"Finding and filtering information and then applying it to problem solving - that is the new premium skill set," said Matt Dunleavy, interim director of academic affairs and associate professor of instructional technology, who opened the three-day event on Tuesday, April 22, in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium as the plenary speaker.

"The corpus of human knowledge not lost to genocide is now keyword-searchable, free and can be instantaneously recalled," said Dunleavy. "You're now finding out what it means to be smart and we need you to successfully and ethically navigate the world's complexities."

Almost 200 presentations from RU graduate and undergraduate students were featured in the campuswide celebration of original research and faculty/student collaboration. Symposiums were devoted to arctic geophysics, innovations in forensic science, gender studies and communications. There were art history panels and discussions by participating students on leveraging research opportunities and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. Oral presentation sessions were devoted to business and technology, Appalachian Studies and biology. Poster sessions were devoted to nursing, chemistry, biology, psychology, geology and geospatial science.

At Wednesday's Innovations in Forensic Science Symposium, Sheryl Manning, a senior biology major from Fancy Gap, presented her two-year research project on DNA degradation as a means to determine Post Mortal Interval time.


Nursing students Ariell Nicoletti, Heather Burgoyne, Rachel Leopold, Rebecca Uren, Rebecca Upson and Rosa Obleas

"The experience has been wonderful and I had a good opportunity to learn and do applied science," said Manning, who had to learn DNA extraction procedure and interpretation before embarking on a project that she thinks has "exciting potential and application in the real world."

Eminent Professor of Anthropology Donna Boyd and Bob Sheehy, professor of biology, were Manning's faculty mentors. Said Boyd: "When she proposed this project, Sheryl didn't have the classes yet. She knew blood and she knew lab work, but the way she taught herself to do this work makes me proud."

During the nursing poster presentation session, members of Assistant Professor of Nursing Lynne Bryant's Nursing Research Methods class presented several projects associated with best practices and challenges in their field.

"Evidence-based research is the basis of what we will do as nurses," said Rachel Leopold, a junior second-level nursing student from Fredericksburg. "We won't have all the answers, but we must always be looking to improve patient care."

Leopold and her six teammates addressed the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections among hospitalized patients that, according to their research, add one to three days to a patient's recovery time and make hospital stays more expensive.

"The research was frustrating at times and time-consuming at first because we had to spend a lot of time learning the terminology to interpret the existing research. The work will help us heal our patients faster and cut the cost of health care," said Meredith Farmer, a junior second-level nursing student from Lebanon, whose team studied treatment and prevention of hospital-induced pressure ulcers, or bedsores.

After a semester spent planning and developing a project called "Differential Identification of Blunt Force Trauma in Burned Human Remains," David Foley, a junior anthropological sciences major from Bassett, said, "It is a reassuring aspect of this university that I can work closely with someone as distinguished in her field as Dr. Boyd who pushed me and shared expertise and resources."

Apr 30, 2014