Monday, May 7, 2018

18th Annual Research Day Project Highlights - students take over!

In partnership with the University Office of Research and Economic Development, Wyoming INBRE, The McNair Scholars Program, Engineering, Phi Beta Kappa and the Honors College, EPSCoR hosted over 500 student presentations, both oral and poster as part of Undergraduate Research Day! We handed the blog reins over to Dr. Kristen Landreville’s Media, Science, and Society students who told the story of various presentations. 

Marta Gomez is a junior communications major who comes to the University of Wyoming from Spain. She plays for the UW Cowgirls Basketball team and is interested in continuing her studies in journalism.  

Undergraduate student researchers presented, discussed, and displayed their independent projects at the 18th annual Undergraduate Research Day, held on the University of Wyoming campus on April 28.

Shelby Mikkelson with her research poster
The purpose of this event is to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of undergraduate researchers. It provides many opportunities for the participants and it can be used as a display to get the research financed in the future.

“I’m a part of the McNair Scholars Program and they are going to fund my research this summer,” said Shelby Mikkelson, a Criminal Justice undergraduate at the University of Wyoming. “They have also helped me to get all my literature review and design, and what I’m actually going to do for my data collection.”

Mikkelson hasn’t started her research yet, but she clearly knows what she wants to get accomplished. Her proposed research project focuses on how society punishes ex-felons and how employers are less likely to hire them. As she explained, her husband is an ex-felon and they know how it is to fight to get his normal life back. 

Last year the event hosted 400 students that presented their proposals and research, a number that had increased to about 500 students participating this year. Abstracts of all the presentations can be found here, and some of them will be published online in the University of Wyoming Libraries.

Even though most of the research projects were science focused, a lot of different disciplines and majors could be found while walking around the poster session. Some of the topics were related to language barriers, environmental changes, space travel, or SAT mathematics scores.

“I am researching the gender gap in mathematics between males and females at a high school level,” explained Kaylee Tuttle, who is a University of Wyoming Mathematics undergraduate.
Kaylee Tuttle next to her research on Gender Differences in High School Math

Tuttle knows that even though the gap has decreased in the past years, women are still scoring at lower levels than men. Her research wants to find why this happens, and some relationship that will let her explain it. She knows that it is going to be hard and she will have to put a lot of work on it, but she is happy with the help that she is getting from the university and his professors.

“I was really scared at the beginning because this is the first big project that I’ve done,” said Tuttle. “But I’ve had great mentors that have really helped me with the literature review, outlines, and keeping me on schedule.”

Professors at the University of Wyoming know how important research is for their students. Some of these students will eventually get scholarships or find someone who will fund their research. Some might have it published someday, and others just want to use it to make a change.

“I would love to get my research published because it’s something that hasn’t been done yet,” explained Mikkelson. “But I most importantly want to see it expand and then maybe even affect policy.”

Any student who has completed an independent research or creative project in any discipline at Wyoming community colleges, UW/Casper college, or the University of Wyoming were qualified to participate in the event.