ECU undergraduate Dayna Rodriguez presents a research poster in the social sciences category during Research and Creative Achievement Week March 31 - April 4. Her reseearch was titled "Implicit Theories of Intelligence and Academic Persistance in First-Generation College Students." (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU students demonstrate skills in research, presentation

April 8, 2014

ECU News Services

East Carolina University students from multiple disciplines shared their research and creative works March 31 – April 4 at the Eighth Annual Research and Creative Achievement Week at Mendenhall Student Center on campus.

More than 300 graduate and undergraduate students made oral, online and poster presentations to explain their original work in categories that ranged from biomedical sciences to fine and performing arts. Fifty-four presenters were undergraduates from the ECU Honors College.

The number of undergraduate presenters at the event is steadily increasing, said event co-chair Mary Farwell, ECU Office of Undergraduate Research. The largest growth area in recent years has been in social sciences, with a growing population in humanities and fine and performing arts, she said.

Farwell said those numbers demonstrate strong university support, along with an increased appreciation for the skills involved in developing and presenting original research. “Undergraduate research is recognized as a ‘high-impact practice’ in educational circles, which means it is a valuable addition to a degree,” she said.
In the category of social sciences, undergraduate Benjamin Wigand prepares his poster presentation, "Gender Differences in the Impact of an Early Warning System and Tutoring in College."

“Students learn skills under the direct supervision of a mentor – similar to an apprenticeship – and are able to use the knowledge they have gained in the classroom in a hands-on experience,” she said.

Tom McConnell, associate dean for the ECU Graduate School, said the event provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop and practice their presentation skills. He was also co-chair of event planning for RCAW.

McConnell said RCAW serves as an introduction to an internationally-accepted process students will most likely use in their careers. They may apply those skills “for presentations, submitting an abstract, getting that abstract approved, having that abstract published and then…meeting people, explaining their research and creative achievement projects,” he said in an interview posted on the group’s Facebook page. View the McConnell interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFEe4H92Bcs.

Following student presentations throughout the early part of the week, faculty were recognized for integrating research into their teaching at the Scholar-Teacher Awards and Symposium on April 3. Recognized were Dr. Matthew Mahar, College of Health and Human Performance; Dr. Bryce L. Jorgensen, College of Human Ecology; Dr. Jay Juchniewicz, College of Fine Arts and Communication; Dr. Jason Oliver, College of Business; Dr. Junhua Ding, College of Technology and Computer Science; Dr. Steven W. Schmidt, College of Education; Dr. Pamela J. Reis, College of Nursing; and Drs. Zi-Wei Lin, Susan B. McRae and Nicholas G. Rupp from the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

On April 4, an awards luncheon honored excellence in student scholarship and faculty mentoring. The ECU Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award in the master’s category was presented to Dr. Robert Edwards, Department of Sociology in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award in the doctoral category was presented to Dr. Phillip H. Pekala, professor and chair in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Brody School of Medicine.

Frank R. Brown, Department of Mathematics in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, received the ECU Master’s Thesis Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering. His thesis was titled “Financial Market Analysis Using a Kinetics Model” and his thesis director was David Pravica.

Joanna Pepple in the Department of Music Theory, Composition and Musicology in the College of Fine Arts received the ECU Master’s Thesis Award in Humanities and Fine Arts. Her thesis was titled “The Language of Johannes Brahm’s Theme and Variation: A Study of His Chamber Works for Strings” and her thesis director was Amy Carr-Richardson.

The winners of RCAW student and postdoctoral research awards, the categories of their research and faculty mentors are listed below.

The event is sponsored by the ECU Division of Academic Affairs, Division of Health Sciences, Brody Graduate Student Association, Graduate and Professional Student Senate, Office of Undergraduate Research, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Graduate School and Division of Research & Graduate Studies.

Additional information is available at the RCAW blog at http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/rcaw/.

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