Research blooms at Radford University


As spring comes to Radford University, it will bring more than just a change in the weather for students engaged in undergraduate research.

Thanks in part to funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) many enterprising students will attend academic and professional conferences around the country.

Undergraduate research, with a strong student-faculty collaborative element, is a high impact practice that allows students to gain knowledge and skills while making active strides towards building their career.

OURS supports these research projects with funding and connections to opportunities for presentation and publication on- and off-campus. The basic requirement set forth by OURS is that research must make original intellectual or creative contributions to a discipline; that's not a problem for Radford students.

For Kristina Contreras, a senior communication major from Roanoke, research was the means by which to address an important issue:  stigmas about women and political knowledge.

Contreras, working with Assistant Professor Scott Dunn, looked at political information efficacy (PIE) differences between men and women. PIE is an individual's perception of their own political knowledge and confidence in influencing others.

"As found in previous research, we found that females started with a lower political information efficacy than their counterparts," Contreras said of her results." However, contrary to previous research…we found that both males and females increased their political information efficacy at the same pace, parallel to one another."

Contreras will present her research, “The Effects of Individual Differences on Political Information Efficacy: A Gubernatorial Analysis,” at the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Philadelphia in late April.

For students in the Department of Theatre and Cinema, research takes a different meaning.

OURS funding helped send four students in the department to the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from March 4-8, where they are auditioning for professional companies and sharing their art.

Taylor Moore, a senior theater major from Clarksville, Virginia, has prepared for SETC by developing her audition package. She'll have only 90 seconds to deliver a monologue and song, both of which need to show off her strengths.

"The conference offers us the opportunity to audition in front of over 50 companies all looking to hire for their summer and year-round seasons," she said. Using a song from the classic Les Miserables and a monologue titled "Divorce Papers," Moore hopes to make her mark.

Theatre students like Moore don't just blindly choose a performance piece. Every aspect must be carefully considered.

"We research our characters, their backstories and what was going on in history at the time our selection was written," Moore said. "We break our monologues down into beats to better understand the thought process of the character. We wrote abstracts of our pieces in order to better understand our characters journey throughout the package."

Moore will be joined at SETC by fellow theater students Madeleine Cindrich, Zachary Bacon and Morgan Taylor Hardy. Hardy will attend with an exhibit about his original theatrical work, "The Way It Has To Be," which had its world premiere at Radford in February.

Other ongoing projects are making their mark as well.

Sociology students Madeleine Reda and Deryk Jackson will present “Status and Individualism,” a study in which they collaborated with Assistant Professor, Lawrence, from March 25-28 as part of the Southern Sociological Society's 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Four undergraduate psychology students will also travel in March thanks to OURS funds.  Jessica Compton, Bryan Healy, Rachel Marble and Shameka Hylton will present "Costs of Avoidance: Deactivating Attachment Strategies Deplete Self-Control Resources" on March 18 at the Southeastern Psychological Association Conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina. 

The four, mentored by Professor of Psychology Jeffery Aspelmeier, worked with graduate students Amanda Lessard and Abigail Vandivier and alumnus Jonathan Renz on the research. All but Renz will attend the conference as well.

Research takes many forms at Radford University. While many students pursue opportunities away from campus, they will also come together for the 24th annual Student Engagement Forum in April.

The Student Engagement Forum showcases the highest levels of academic achievement and creation of new knowledge at Radford with presentations and symposia of and on undergraduate and graduate students’ creative works, scholarship and research.

For more information on research at Radford, visit the OURS website.

Mar 4, 2015