Undergraduate Research Day provides opportunity to present and network

Katie Wade

Students from Washburn University and Kansas Board of Regents schools gathered at the fourth annual Undergraduate Research Day to present their various topics of research and findings to the community.

Several fields of research were represented at the Kansas State Capitol on Thursday from psychology to astronomy. The event was an opportunity for students from different Kansas universities to interact with others conducting research in their field as well as an opportunity for them to network with community members through their topics.

“It’s really cool getting to see people from all over…and then getting to talk to other people who are coming around and asking questions,” said Andrew Sanchez, sophomore physical therapy major. “Getting to present with them what you’ve found is pretty cool.”

While most students shared projects that they had been working on over the last year, several students had been working on their research for a hefty portion of their college career.

Molly Walter, who graduated in December 2015 with her degree in psychology from Washburn, said her research has been a project in the making. For the last two and a half years, Walter has studied how language plays a role in stigma and perceptions of mental health.

“I’ve heard people say things like, ‘Oh I’d rather kill myself than do this…’” Walter said. “The biggest takeaways from this research for me are making sure that we are taking this language seriously and getting people to the resources they need.”

Students at the event had the opportunity to walk around the exhibition and visit with students in different fields and different universities.

Emily Dee, senior at Wichita State University, noted that she loved the setting for this reason. Dee, who has three majors in psychology, sociology and anthropology was excited to meet people from different fields as well as present the research she was excited about.

“I also got to walk around and see what other people are doing and I saw somebody who had done some research about drone strikes which is kind of related to mine,” Dee said. “I love being in these kinds of settings because it really gets to interlace my three majors, you know. How does my research relate to part of someone else’s?”

The event also gave students a chance to hone their presentation skills in a formal setting while networking with local members of their fields.

Emily Engler, senior physics major, presented her new research with Brian Thomas, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, on the effects of supernovas. Engler noted that her experience at the Capitol enhanced her confidence in presentation skills. She will be bringing her research back to present at Apeiron.

“So it’s kind of like a test run,” Engler said.

However, research topics spanned from areas of science and health to social dynamics in our expanding technological sphere.

Washburn students Jonathan Volz, Sarah Minneman and Dallas Hathaway presented their project “Whispers: Confessions within Anonymity” in which they tracked confessions and ‘venting’ posted on various anonymous social media platforms.

Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol was a unique opportunity to unite schools across Kansas in their research efforts, according to Kimberly Engber, dean of Wichita State University’s honor college.

“All of the presentations today are on things that have economic and cultural impacts on all campuses,” Engber said.