Skip to main content

Undergraduate students to present research findings


April 24, 2009

Liberal Arts and Sciences creating student research apprenticeship program

Research is not just for scientists. College undergraduate students, including freshmen, can work on the ground floor of innovative research and learn side-by-side with an ASU faculty member. The humanities, liberal arts and social sciences, as well as science and technical fields, all encompass the broad spectrum of research being conducted by student researchers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students are engaged in a variety of research endeavors, ranging from access to Medicaid dental care or the development of math models for alternative biofuel application, to producing diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic strategies for breast cancer.

This month, 44 ASU undergraduate students will present their research findings through posters at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium. The event is open to the public and will take place from 4-7 p.m. April 27 in the Ventana Ballroom in the Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The young researchers come from diverse disciplines and include chemistry, psychology, English, speech and hearing science, mathematics and statistics, and physics.

Katherine Divine, a senior majoring in biology and society, conducted research that looks into the accessibility of dental care for Arizonans enrolled in Medicaid compared to Medicaid residents of other southwest states. Divine found that without an increase in the participating dental workforce, the access-to-care disparity will worsen.

Riki Meier, a junior majoring in English literature, studied how people compose a gendered self in the anonymity of an online environment and how this impacts their everyday life. To do this, she studied an online book discussion on www.weightwatchers.com and investigated what the postings revealed about her research.

Phillip Barden, a senior majoring in ecology and evolution, investigated the effect of group size, a fundamental characteristic of animal societies, on brood care and task allocation in the desert seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus. He hypothesized that brood productivity declines as social insect colonies increase in size, due to inherent brood-rearing inefficiency. However, he found that, in contrast, larger colonies may be able to rear brood more effectively than smaller colonies. In the future, he hopes to expand upon these results to improve the understanding of productivity in ants, as well as the broader impact of group-level properties on individual behavior.

Students will be asked to participate in reviewing their peers’ work and judge the research posters. Winners will be recognized at a reception and award ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Turquoise Ballroom in the Memorial Union. The keynote speech will be given by Neal Lester, chair of the department of English.

Conducting undergraduate research benefits students in many ways. It allows for the development of faculty member mentorships, further exploration into an area of interest, turning classroom theory into real experiences, and offering a head start on pursuing graduate school.

Students can become involved with research at ASU through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences new Research Apprenticeship Program. The new initiative will allow faculty members to identify research projects and activities that are open to undergraduate student participation. Students can contact faculty members whose research interests align, and determine goals and expectations. More information about the apprenticeship program will be available at http://clas.asu.edu/students/research.

“The college’s apprenticeship program will provide an interactive research environment for undergraduate students to explore new areas, engage in novel research and contribute to an academic field,” says Heather Harris Wright, associate professor in ASU’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science.

“Many student posters are a result of years of work with a faculty member. Students begin research as soon as their first year and can continue into graduate school,” says Wright, who developed the apprenticeship program as a faculty fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

More information about the symposium is at http://clas.asu.edu/researchsymposium.

 

Erica Velasco, erica.velasco@asu.edu
480-965-1156
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences