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Discover: Students to present research findings

April 22, 2010

The pika, police and fast-food in Phoenix all have something in common. They play a role in student research projects in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

More than 60 students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences will present the findings of their studies during a research symposium — Discover — from 4-6 p.m,. April 28 in the Memorial Union, Ventana Ballroom, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“Student involvement in research is integral to the New American University experience, blending discovery and learning, innovation and impactful problem-solving, and combining the creative energies of faculty and students,” says Quentin Wheeler, ASU vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Hands-on research, especially for undergraduates, exemplifies how we educate in a rapidly changing world,” Wheeler notes.

During the symposium, students will discuss their research with peers, faculty members and the public in one-on-one mini-presentations, often with the aid of a poster that illustrates their research methodology and findings.

Maxwell Wilson, a biological sciences major, will discuss his research on the density and dispersion of burrows of the Plateau Pika, Ochotona curzoniae, in the high altitude grasslands of the People’s Republic of China. His research, with professor Andrew Smith in the School of Life Sciences, is one of the steps to more fully understand the impact of the pikas on the degrading grassland of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau.

In another study, a group of six psychology students working with instructor Gregory Neidert, compared the effect of exposure to community violence on depression, anxiety and stress levels in homicide detectives, patrol offices and psychology students. Students William Ong, James Carlson, Jason Diminico, Eleuterio Fragoso, Nicole Havermale and Thomas Hoilman used the “Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale” (DASS) and the “Survey of Exposure to Community Violence” (SECVL) in their comparative measurements. Their findings suggest that police officers are desensitized due to the proactive nature of their job.

A number of students majoring in political science in the School of Politics and Global Studies will also be presenting their research at the symposium. Jaron Reed, will talk about his study with professor Okey Iheduru on the environmental and socioeconomic factors associated with increasing fast-food consumption in Phoenix. The research relied on geographical information system (GIS) technology to measure geospatial association between fast-food outlet density and median household income, household composition, race and ethnicity, population density and average work week in 2000 Phoenix Census tract data.

In another study, political science major Stephanie Tyers, working with associate professor Avital Simhony, looked at how to teach civic education effectively. To provide students with hands-on experience of learning and practicing important democratic skills, like active listening and deliberative dialogue, Tyers developed special learning tools, including a “debate map” graphic organizer and a “walking Likert scale” activity. As a new high school teacher, she plans to implement her practical proposal and share it with other teachers.

Research is not just for scientists. A number of humanities students also will be represented at the symposium, including Samuel Philbrick, an English literature major, who with Regents’ Professor Jane Maienschein, examined what has been written about narrative medicine and its interaction with the humanities, especially with literature. His study looked at the role of narrative medicine in various medical specialties and pursued comparative study of various authors.

Other disciplines represented in the projects to be presented include Asian Pacific American studies, biochemistry, chemistry, economics, family and human development, geological sciences, linguistics, molecular biosciences/biotechnology, physics and sociology.

Student abstracts are available online at

Cheryl Conrad, a behavioral neuroscientist and associate dean for research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will provide welcoming remarks at the symposium, which will be immediately followed by student presentations. For additional information contact 480-965-7765 or online at