William Woods to Host University’s First Undergraduate Research Conference

William Woods University students will have an opportunity to showcase their research projects and papers during the university’s first Undergraduate Research Conference Saturday, March 15.

The conference will be held at various campus locations from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. A total of $500 in prize money will be awarded for the first, second and third place winners.

“What is significant [about this conference] is the extent to which William Woods University encourages and recognizes undergraduate research,” J. Lance Kramer, William Woods provost and professor of history and education, said.

“It is a feature of the institution that is somewhat unique inasmuch as few, very few, undergraduate institutions provide students with opportunities for sustained, systematic research,” he explained. “The conference simply reflects the commitment of the university to the provision of such opportunities for its undergraduates.”

Kramer and Shawn Hull, instructor of history, are responsible for arranging the conference.

According to Hull, both men had ideas for a conference with an undergraduate research format. Hull was inspired by a conference he saw at another college and Kramer wanted to establish a way to present the work of students involved in the Mentor/Mentee program.

The professors joined forces and organized the William Woods University Undergraduate Research Conference.

“The purpose of the conference is to bring together undergraduate scholars and interested faculty in a forum that supports student research and creative endeavors,” explained Hull. “It’s a way to show that faculty support research outside the classroom.”

In a typical conference format, there will be five panels, each with three students and a faculty commentator. The panels are: Psychology, Art and Culture, History, Communication and Politics and Science and Technology.

A total of 13 presentations will be made, including: “Purpose and Function of Religion” by Donna Delia of St. Louis, Mo.; “Alcohol and Athletes” by Christy McPherson of Vista, Calif.; “Relief Printing” by Angela Cooper of Redbud, Ill.; “Mujadar Towers” by Jennifer Sydow of Columbia, Mo.; “Blackberries and Cow Weeds: Reform, Missouri” by Laura Tenney of Fulton; “Memories of William Woods from the 1930s” by Lynne Riedemann of St. Peters, Mo.; “Prop A, Its Supporters and Opponents” by Megan Klein of Fort Smith, Ark., and “Women in Pornography” by Anya Barta of Appleton, Wis.

Students from the Mentor/Mentee program will also make presentations. William Woods University’s Mentor/Mentee program provides another opportunity for students to participate in enrichment experiences outside of regular coursework. The program pairs a faculty member and a student for collaborative study, using investigative, research-related exploration.

The five Mentor/Mentee presentations are: “Attachment Theory” by Donna Delia of St. Louis, Mo.; “Analysis of Art Media Related to the Artist’s Perception” by Megan Colbert of Curryville, Mo.; “The Rise of Black Democracy: The Life of Dr. William J. Thompkins” by Nick Coleman of Salem, Ark.; “Intraspecific Phylogeny of Goodea atripinnis from Central Mexico” by Kathleen Gettinger of Warrenton, Mo., and “Problems and Issues in Installing a Linux Server” by Jake Itegboje of Lagos, Nigeria.

A panel of faculty will serve as judges, and the winners will be announced at a luncheon following the presentation sessions.

Kramer said William Woods students “will benefit from their involvement in systematic research and the process of sharing and communicating the results of their work to members of the scholarly community who have the capacity to critique and evaluate their work.”

He added, “This is the essence of scholarship—both the production and the dissemination of research results and creative products.”

Regarding future research conferences, Hull said that they are “giving some thought to opening the conference up next year to other schools.”