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Student Research Conference Shows Breadth of Inquiry

Friday, April 27, 2012
Marymount’s 9th annual Student Research Conference featured poster and oral presentations by more than 100 students. The research projects presented by undergraduate and graduate students ran the spectrum from the arts and humanities to science, mathematics, education, and psychology. Topics included Bullying and its Relationship to Stress and Academic Performance; The Effect of Transponder Tags on the Growth of Painted Turtle Hatchlings; Use of Recess-Based Activities as a Method to Lower Childhood Obesity Rates; The Way, the Truth, the Light: James Baldwin on Racism and Uplift; and Fear of Terrorism 10 Years after 9/11.

Inquiry learning, is a major focus at Marymount. The University’s DISCOVER program is the umbrella initiative that promotes undergraduate research and creativity throughout the curriculum, from a required freshman seminar class to the senior capstone course in each discipline.

Dr. Liane Summerfield, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, is excited by the conference’s growth. She notes, “This year, we received a record number of student submissions and expanded the event to a full day, in order to showcase the breadth of scholarly work that our students are engaged in -- both independently and in collaboration with faculty.”

Freshman participants reported on research undertaken in their DISCOVER 101 courses. One group examined multiculturalism and explained how they made use of DC resources, as well as print and online sources to gain a global perspective. Karen Oliva researched the Middle East for her DISCOVER course, Ambassadors in Training. She focused on the United Arab Emirates and initially had difficulty getting an interview at the UAE embassy. Thinking outside the box, she contacted an MU friend with a connection to the embassy and made it happen. Karen emphasizes, “I learned that you can’t give up. You have to keep looking for an answer. I found persevering and taking the initiative to be really beneficial.”

Freshman Juna Luzi, an Economics in Society major, presented on the intricacies of the stock market. Prior to her DISCOVER class, this native of Albania knew nothing about the American stock market. She says, “I quickly realized that when Professor Wansi posed a question, my first step was to research it and do the preliminary work. Only then would it be discussed in class.”

Senior Thiha Soe (Kay), a Graphic Design major, presented a video about Marymount’s rain garden, that he and Christopher Mudd ’11, a Communication major, created in collaboration with the Biology Department. “I didn’t know what a rain garden was when we started,” he explains. “We interviewed all the people involved from faculty and students to the construction manager.” Thiha points out, “In graphic design, we usually focus more on the design than the content. For this video production project, content was king. We covered every aspect of the garden, including its funding, purpose, construction, and future use as a research resource.”

Each of the third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students presented a case report. Most were studies on how to handle a patient’s specific physical therapy needs. Reported outcomes also included discussion of how the findings could be applied to a broader population.

The project of DPT candidate Terri Lannigan Wahid provides an example. Terri collaborated with Dr. Jason Craig, associate professor of Physical Therapy, on Physical Therapy Management of a Patient with a Postural Dysfunction and Temporomandibular Disorder Complicated by Bipolar Disorder. Due to bipolar issues, the patient would not allow direct physical therapy to relieve jaw pain, so the therapist initially directed the patient to concentrate on diaphragmatic breathing and posture issues. This led to reduced anxiety for the patient, who then allowed direct PT treatment. The personal outcome for the patient was very positive. More broadly, the results suggest that it is possible for individuals to make physiological gains even if psychosocial factors complicate treatment.

To view abstracts of all the presentations, click here.

– Alicia Romero ’14, a Psychology major, explains her research on Bullying and its Relationship to Stress and Academic Performance.

PHOTO 2 – Thiha Soe (Kay) ’12, a Graphic Design major, shows his video, Marymount’s Rain Garden.

PHOTO 3 – E. Téarrah Cristiani-Nguyen, a DPT candidate, presents her case study on cultural influences and attitudes toward pain management.