While COVID made research difficult last academic year, students and faculty started the 2021-2022 academic year with a renewed commitment to undergraduate research.
Sixteen students were awarded Undergraduate Student Research Grants for supplies or travel expenses related to their research. These included students in biology, environmental science, art, English, political science, mathematics and psychology. But many more students participated in course-based research, a faculty-led research team, or individual research across campus. At the end of the semester, 173 (that we know of!) gave presentations of their work to their peers and their professors in symposia across campus, and beyond.
104 psychology students from 9 courses gave 64 presentations at the Dept. of Psychological Science Fall Virtual Symposium, which can be viewed here: https://umwpsychologyresearch.com/fall-2021/. Pictured below is the presentation “The Association Between Editing Pictures, Depressed Mood, and Disordered Eating” by Samantha Bertsch, Antonio Laborte, & Antonia Serafin, supervised by Dr. Laura Wilson.
The UMW Honors Program held its fall 2021 Senior Capstone Symposium in person on the last day of classes, December 3rd, where 12 students presented their projects and 5 graduating students also received their Honors Program stoles from Dr. Kelli Slunt (Honors Program Director). They were (from top to bottom, left to right): Caitlin Holt (“Numerical Study of SEIQR Model for COVID-19”, MATH 492, Advisor: Dr. Jangwoon Lee); Kendall Resnick (“Libraries, Perceptions, and Social Justice”, COMM 491, Advisor: Dr. Adria Goldman); Sydney Thompson (“Breaking the Cycle: Reducing Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality”, HONR 491, Advisor: Dr. Miriam Liss); Noell Evans (“Regional Hegemony: An Analysis of India’s Hegemonic Status in the South Asian Region”, INAF 491, Advisor: Surupa Gupta); Emily Litsinger (“Fredericksburg Sustainability Practices Compared to Other Similar Cities in the Context of COVID-19”, SOCG 492, Advisor: Eric Bonds).
Also on the last day of classes, December 3rd, 56 science students presented their individual and course-related research through 37 posters in the Jepson Science Center on topics related to biology, physics, and environmental science. These posters represented both individual and course-based research on topics as wide as “Numerical modelling of trapped vortices in superconductors” by physics major Zoe Rafter (Dr. Manula Pathirana, faculty advisor) and “Wheel running influences central neuropeptides and social dominance behavior in mice” by biology majors Kristin Haes and Jane Sullivan (Dr. Parrish Waters, faculty advisor), to various projects on the Newcastle disease in poultry by Dr. Lynn Lewis’s Virology students (many of whom are seen in action in the video below)
Conservation Biology major Tiffany Skrabanek spent her fall semester researching and learning in the field at our partner program the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal. She ended the semester with a presentation on her research, “Understanding trends in endangered ungulate reintroductions to improve their conservation.” For this project, Tiffany assisted two scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Ecology Center on their work with endangered ungulates. Tiffany explained:
We are still trying to understand the best methods of species reintroductions to generate the highest chance of survival. My research entailed investigating reintroduction projects from around the world to find trends and correlations in the number of species being released over time and how they are monitored afterwards to ensure success. I learned valuable research techniques and data analysis while being welcomed to a large network of amazing scientists from various fields and backgrounds. Not only did I grow as a student and wildlife biologists, my research contributed to a growing foundation of knowledge regarding species reintroductions into the wild, an accomplishment I am very proud of no matter how small my part!