OURS reception showcases student-faculty research projects
Students and faculty gathered in the Joseph P. Scartelli Atrium on Oct. 20 to recognize research achievements at the inaugural Celebration of Student and Faculty Collaborative Research program.
Since 2016, Radford University has seen publications in research, scholarship and creative activities by 32 faculty mentors and 96 undergraduate students, said Joe Wirgau, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) and associate professor of chemistry.
“This is a celebration of student-faculty teams that not only have successfully created new knowledge, but they’ve shared that new knowledge through successful publications, performances or showings of their work,” Wirgau said at the program. “I am well aware of both the challenging and rewarding nature of that work. I want to thank every single faculty, both here and in the program, who were able to create these transformative, high impact experiences for our students. I also want to thank the student researchers…They push me to be more successful, and they certainly have me think about things from a different viewpoint. Thank you for your hard work, your curiosity and working to make the world a better place.”
Wirgau added that he hoped the research celebration would be “a new and valuable tradition” for the university. He also thanked several people for supporting OURS endeavors, including Mary Hagan in the Honors Academy and Jeanne Mekolichick, assistant provost for academic programs, for her tireless support of transformative high impact student experiences.
On behalf of the student researchers, Conner Philson spoke of the many research and learning opportunities in which he has participated at Radford, including the Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE) to Peru. Under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Biology Jason Davis, he is also researching automated animal data collection centers.
“It is the continued support of faculty that has allowed me to do the research that I enjoy,” Philson said. “Thank you for all the opportunities undergraduate research and high impact practices have given me and all the other students. Not just the students here today, but the ones who are working on publications now, the ones who will be coming in as freshmen next year and for many years to come…We will continue to produce great publications and work and share the Radford University name in all the opportunities that are provided.”
Jessica Mundy, OURS executive student assistant, said she is also grateful for the many research opportunities that she’s embraced at Radford, including presenting at several conferences, being published and earning grants to further her studies.
The experience has also affected her personal growth, she said.
“Because of undergraduate research, I am a completely different person,” Mundy said. “My confidence has grown drastically, as well as my efficacy - my belief that I can do good things here. I’ve made meaningful friendships and I’m doing valuable things with my time…This institution is my home now - one of my favorite places in the world.”
“You all [faculty] are so motivated, ambitious and everything I aspire to be when I grow up,” Mundy continued. “It is faculty and students like you who have made Radford so successful."