Students Share Research with Asbury 'Family'

WILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University students recently presented the results of months of scientific research to one of the most difficult audiences they know: their peers.

Micah Schmal '13 was one of many science and math students who presented research to their peers.
Micah Schmal '13 was one of many science and math students who presented research to their peers.

During the second-annual research poster presentation, students talked with other students, faculty and administrators about research they’d done individually and in groups in the natural sciences, behavioral sciences and mathematics. While many of the students have already presented at conferences about their subject matter — the Kentucky Academy of Science, Kentucky Psychological Association or Mathematics Association of America, for example — putting their work before fellow students can be a very different experience.

“A primary goal of our research program is to have students gain experience in presenting their work at professional meetings,” said Dr. David Coulliette, a professor in the Math Department. “This poster session isn’t about that experience; it’s a chance for the campus community to see some of the work. For the math modelers specifically, the campus hears about the competition in February and gives us great support. This session is a chance for them to see the results.”

In general terms, presenting research is the final step of a learning process that involves asking questions, collecting information to answer the questions and figuring out what the answers mean. By summarizing the methodology and results of their work, students must themselves understand clearly what they did and how it fits into their discipline. Research topics ranged from the impact of feeding supplements on reindeer growth in Alaska to the influence of color on a person’s psychological and physiological state.

“Research is done to share, either in print (peer-reviewed journals) or at scientific meetings, and the process of peer review and support is an essential part of the validation process,” said Dr. Bruce Branan, a chemistry professor. “We want our students not only to get the important experience in sharing their work … but also to realize that their work is significant, and that others are interested and can benefit from the work they’ve done and the lessons they’ve learned.”

Ranay Ray will continue to conduct research this summer.
Ranay Ray will continue to conduct research this summer.

Asbury students conduct research with both Asbury faculty and scientists at research institutions across the United States. Senior Ranay Ray conducted a research project at the University of Kentucky over the summer that has provided a bridge from the academic to the working world.

“Most of us don't have time to just present stuff to our roommates, but mine came out to support me, and I got to teach them about the research I've done,” she said. “It was fun to see my friends’ reactions to how cool my research really was. I am going into research this summer in Tennessee, and the research opportunity is what helped me get the job.”

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