Western Carolina’s undergraduate stars shine at research symposium in Raleigh

CULLOWHEE – Twelve Western Carolina University undergraduate students hit the road on Monday (April 21) to participate in The Research in the Capital Symposium, a showcase of the best undergraduate research from The University of North Carolina system.

About 90 students from 15 UNC system campuses gathered in the Legislative Building in Raleigh from 10 a.m. until noon on Tuesday (April 22) to discuss the results and value of their research findings with legislators and the public. The contingent of Western students was the second-largest group participating.

researchponderThe exhibition of poster presentations, the first of its scope in the state, is meant to build on the success of a smaller UNC-sponsored event held in the Legislature in 2001.

The Honor’s College associate dean Anne Rogers, who accompanied Western’s participants on the trip to Raleigh, said the students set up their displays in the General Assembly and then visited legislators from their home districts. Many of those legislators later made a point of coming to the poster areas to talk with the students about their work. Of this research symposium Dr. Rogers said, “It not only gives legislators an understanding of what our students are doing and the value of their education, but it also lets students tell their elected representatives about the importance of support for education.”

The symposium was organized by the UNC Undergraduate Research Consortium, which is composed of faculty and staff from the UNC Office of the President and 15 UNC institutions.

Participating students (with hometowns and project topics listed) were: Holly Baucom, Gastonia, “Sense of Direction, Cognitive Mapping and Gender;” Kurtis Beshers (co-presenter), Waxhaw, “Analysis of Lake Sediments Resulting from a Partial Dam Failure;” Christopher Bochicchio (co-presenter), Weaverville, “Analysis of Lake Sediments Resulting from a Partial Dam Failure;” Mark Clark (co-presenter), Cullowhee, “Differential Lead Uptake and Excretion in Tissues of Rainbow Trout;” Edward Gonzalez, Cullowhee, “Cuba: Profiles of an Embargo;” Josh Hopper, Marble, “Seriation Study of Buffalo Independent Baptist Church Cemetery;” Juliette Jeffries, Asheville, “How Far Did Newton’s Apples Fall from the Tree?;” Kim Lowery, St. Cloud, Fla., “Microbial Decomposition in a Cave Ecosystem: Possible Links to Human Forensics;” Bryan Marbert; Cullowhee, “Relative Growth and Stress Tolerance of Native Southern Appalachian Versus Naturalized Northern Strain Brook Trout;” Lisa McCracken (co-presenter), Knightdale, “Differential Lead Uptake and Excretion in Tissues of Rainbow Trout;” Gina Parise, Harmony, “Life in the Extreme: Discovery of Cold-Loving Archaea from High Elevations;” and Kristina Reid, Vale, “Explorations of Bacterial Biodiversity within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”